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Chicago Bears February Scouting Report
Richard Fung


I mentioned in my final Bears report of the 2023 season that I was quite torn about whether the team should keep QB Justin Fields or move on from him. I went into the season finale at Lambeau hoping that Fields’ improvement in the second half of the season would culminate in him rising to the occasion and leading the Bears to a win over their archrivals. But did I expect it to happen? No. And ultimately, the game played out as I expected it to. Fields wasn’tvery good (neither was anyone else for Chicago), and the Bears lost.


Every day since then, I have thought about GM Ryan Poles’ impending decision that will define his tenure here. And every time I think about it, I reach the same conclusion. Fields hasn’t been good enough, and Poles should trade him and select a quarterback with the first pick in this year’s draft. If you’re still not sure about a guy after three years, he’sprobably not the guy. Maybe in the old days, young quarterbacks had more time to develop. The Bears obviously didn’t do Fields any favors in terms of surrounding him with good coaching/offensive talent in his first couple seasons.


Could Fields continue to improve with another infusion of talent? Sure, but I don’t think he’d ever join the NFL’s quarterback elite. And the Bears just happen to have the #1 pick in a year where there’s a "generational" prospect in Caleb Williams. That changes the equation. Of course, money factors in as well, and if the Bears were to commit to Fields long term, they’d have to pay him a lot of money soon. I do not want to see a repeat of the Daniel Jones situation here in Chicago. Resetting the financial clock at quarterback with a top rookie makes a lot more sense.


It’s not just about Fields’ lack of passing production (way too many sub-200-yard games), it’s about the eye test. While he showed improvement in some areas this past season, I feel that he’s still too slow in key areas like processing (i.e. going through progressions and reading defenses), getting the ball out on time, and his release. And then there are his struggles in the fourth quarter, which are well-documented. Fields just started showing improvement in keeping his eyes downfield while scrambling instead of just taking off and running. Williams has been scrambling with intent to throw instead of run since he was a college freshman. He has an ultra-quick release, while Fields’ is still too deliberate at times, which throws off timing on quick throws.


Simply put, if Williams’ football character (is he a good leader, teammate, etc.) and his character off the field check out, I think Poles should select him. Some have raised questions about his character (i.e. profane nail painting, skipping media duties, crying in the stands, etc.), some of which are probably overblown. From everything I’ve heard and read, Williams is a very intense competitor and plays with an edge. Maybe that’s what the Bears need. Or maybe the Bears would rather skip the drama that comes with Caleb and go with Jayden Daniels (my second choice) instead.


Whatever happens, I just want it to happen ASAP, because the debate on social media between Fields’ supporters and anyone who thinks the Bears should trade him has been toxic to say the least. Could the Bears get a historical haul for trading the #1 pick? Sure, but I don’t care how good the rest of the team is you don’t have the right quarterback. My prediction? With the Combine starting this week, I think we’ll start to hear trade speculation about Fields ramp up, and I expect him to be traded within the next couple weeks.


Running back

We saw this past season the kind of impact a dynamic playmaker at this position can make. Christian McCaffrey played a huge role in the 49ers’ run to the Super Bowl, and electric rookie Jahmyr Gibbs made a big-time impact on the Lions’ offense (and helped lead my fantasy team to another title). The Bears’ running game was pretty good, but not great in 2023. None of their backs is particularly dynamic, and RB D’Onta Foreman is likely to be gone. Can the Bears upgrade here? This year’s tailback class in the draft isn’t great, and the top free agents (Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler) all have some mileage on them. Poles hasn’t spent much on this position in the past, and that doesn’t seem likely to change, though I think the team could at least use a receiving threat like Ekeler.


Wide receiver

WR DJ Moore is a stud, we all know that. But the Bears need more production here. WR Darnell Mooney is unlikely to return, and there isn’t much else on the roster other than young WR Tyler Scott. A big-name free agent like Tee Higgins or Mike Evans would look lovely in a Bears uniform, but it seems more likely that the team will look to their pick at #9 overall for more economical help here. LSU’s Malik Nabers or Washington’s Rome Odunze would do nicely, but it seems that mock drafts lately often have both of them gone before #9, so that could be problematic.


Tight end

New OC Shane Waldron had a lot of success with "12" personnel (one back and two tight ends) in Seattle, so it appears that getting another solid tight end to pair with TE Cole Kmet will be on the team’s to-do list this offseason. In terms of free agents, maybe Noah Fant follows Waldron to Chicago. Dalton Schultz and Hunter Henry are possibilities as well. But if the Bears can’t secure Nabers or Odunze at #9, I really like the idea of taking Georgia’s Brock Bowers there (or after a small trade down).


Offensive line

C Cody Whitehair was released, so the team needs a new starting center after (unwisely) not addressing the position in last year’s draft. In free agency, Miami’s Connor Williams has been mentioned as a potential Bears target, but he’s coming off a torn ACL. Andre James and Lloyd Cushenberry III are also candidates, but the team may look to the draft instead for a solution. Is a veteran center or a rookie center better for a rookie signal caller? Let’s see what Poles thinks.


Defense/Special teams

DE Montez Sweat made a big impact after arriving in Chicago, but the Bears still need to find another quality edge rusher. Danielle Hunter is a name that’s been frequently mentioned as a Bears free agent target. But would Chicago be willing to splurge on another big contract for an edge like Hunter, Jonathan Greenard, or Brian Burns after paying Sweat? The draft may be preferable here, perhaps with a second-rounder if the Bears can get one for Fields. On the interior, the Bears could obviously use some help as well. We can all dream about Chris Jones, but Justin Madubuike or Christian Wilkins may be a bit more realistic.


After last year’s shopping spree, linebacker is set. In the secondary, S Eddie Jackson’s recent release means that the team needs a new starting free safety. Xavier McKinney, perhaps? CB Jaylon Johnson seems likely to be franchise tagged by the March 5th deadline.



The Bears are set here with PK Cairo Santos.


More to come next month!



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