Poles Talks Like Justin Fields Is Getting Another Year With Bears

The Chicago Bears are investing at least one more season in Justin Fields, and maybe even a decade or more if he steps up behind an improved offense next season. That’s the only conclusion you can reach after reading Peter King’s thoughtful interview with General Manager Ryan Poles.

King, NBC Sports’ football guru, spent about an hour with Poles at last week’s NFL Combine. He came away with the type of insight that rarely results from team controlled news conferences in front of television cameras.

Poles detailed for King how he views Fields as well as how he believes he can market the good fortune of landing the No. 1 overall pick to help the Bears turn the corner and become a perennial contender.

“I believe in building something to sustain success for a long period of time,” Poles told King for his weekly Football Morning in America column. “To me that’s gotta be through the draft. This is just a chance to load up this team up with a bunch of opportunity and flexibility to do that. It’s time for this organization. The [practice] facility and offices were just built. The new president [Kevin Warren] comes in, and we think in the same innovative way, I think. We’re in position to have a new stadium. Now, with this opportunity with the first pick, it feels like an opportunity to kind of heal some of the things that happened before and become a really good team. Everything feels right.”

While Poles had previously said the Bears will consider using the first overall pick on a quarterback, it is clear he doesn’t buy into Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis or Anthony Richardson enough to bail out on Fields after two seasons.

The Bears have done 5-20 with Fields as the starting quarterback but he’s never had a strong enough offensive line or receiving corps to show what he can do. His highlight film moments have almost all come on his improvisational runs, with him leading the NFL at 7.1 yards per carry en route to 1143 yards and eight rushing touchdowns last season.

“When we started to adjust and adapt to what he did well, and he started running the ball a little bit, we saw a very unique and special ability and talent that can change the game,” Poles said. “Now that next piece in terms of being an efficient passer is what we need to get to. I’ve been open about that. We’ve talked about it with Justin. He knows.”

Fields has often had to run for his life behind collapsing pockets, leading to a NFL-high 55 sacks last season. His list of passing targets is led by Darnell Mooney, a fifth-round sleeper from Tulane in the 2021 draft, with tight end Cole Kmet and free agent-to-be running back David Montgomery the only other Bears with more than 38 receptions the last two seasons.

Poles, who was a scout for Kansas City before becoming the Bears’ GM a year ago, no doubt remembers Fields’ first season at Ohio State. He was the complete package in leading the Buckeyes to a 13-0 record before a loss to Trevor Lawrence’s Clemson team in the NCAA playoffs. Fields completed 67 percent of his passes for an average of 234 yards per game, throwing for 41 touchdowns with only three interceptions.

Poles admits there are questions about Fields but isn’t ready to write him off. “Can he be more clear-minded when he plays, where he can just play loose because he knows where he’s gonna go with the ball?’’ he asked. “I do think there’s potential that we have something really good, and to me, you’ve got to see it through.”

It’s more clear than ever the Bears are shopping the first overall pick. That deal could come before free agency opens on March 15 as quarterback needy teams set their priorities between players in the draft and the likely free agents or trade candidates, including Derek Carr, Aaron Rodgers and Geno Smith.

Should the Bears flip pick with the Houston Texans (second pick) or Indianapolis Colts (fourth pick), Poles could look to trade down again before the draft begins on April 27. He’s clearly motivated to accumulate as many picks as possible, not only in this year’s draft but also in ’24 and even ’25.

Those picks might be used to chase the Bears’ next quarterback or to surround Fields with a championship cast, provided he can still be the passer he was throwing to Chris Olave at Ohio State. It sounds like Poles is patient enough to give him the opportunity.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/philrogers/2023/03/06/poles-talks-like-justin-fields-is-getting-another-year-with-bears/