The Chicago Bears have been a target for criticism this offseason. Much of the fuss has been about General Manager Ryan Poles’ apparent failure to provide second-year quarterback Justin Fields with wide receiver help. But if Fields isn’t complaining, why is everyone else?
“We don’t have an Odell [Beckham Jr.] or a Cooper Kupp on our team,” Fields said in an interview this week, “But at the end of the day, I think if everybody is on their P’s and Q’s, and we’re on top of everything and not making mistakes, the players we have right now are good enough. The front office thinks that, too. The fans outside of the facility, they don’t know what’s going on at practice. Just because we don’t have a big-name guy, doesn’t mean those guys aren’t talented. I have plenty of confidence in myself and my teammates that we’re going to get the job done.”
Sure, Fields is saying what leaders are supposed to. He’s backing his guys; he’s showing support for his wide receivers. But his praise isn’t hollow. The Bears do have talent at receiver, ranging from an established 1,000-yard ascending player in Darnell Mooney to an athletically gifted rookie in Velus Jones Jr. There are the upside guys, too, in free-agent signings Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown. And while none of those dudes are household names yet, they’ll get a chance to become that – or close to it – in 2022.
Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy said earlier this month that the Bears’ receivers will have an opportunity to prove they belong. What they do with that opportunity is up to them.
“I think the system will enable some of these guys to play at their potential and so, we’ll see what we can do,” he said. “We’ll give them an opportunity to show them what they got.”
Sometimes, an opportunity is all it takes. Think back to former Bears wide receiver Marcus Robinson, a fourth-round pick of the 1997 NFL draft. He was an unknown talent who needed a year of development in NFL Europe before exploding with 1,400 receiving yards in 1999. It was an unexpected development for a player Chicago wasn’t counting on setting a single-season receiving record, one that stood until Brandon Marshall topped it 13 years later.
This isn’t to suggest that Pringle, Jones or St. Brown will become a Pro-Bowler in 2022. Expectations have to remain realistic. But the dismissal of the Bears’ receivers by the national media has been an extreme reaction to Poles’ decisions. Perhaps, the fact Poles didn’t spend big money in free agency on a wide receiver or draft one in the second round forced so-called experts to re-examine their offseason predictions. They got it wrong, and, well, someone has to pay for that.
But Fields doesn’t see it that way. The franchise quarterback isn’t second-guessing the decisions his team made this offseason. He isn’t publicly questioning the support the organization is providing for him, nor is he expressing frustration with the team’s direction. Instead, he’s praising the developments inside Halas Hall. And that’s all that matters.
“We got a lot of new people in, he said. “Just creating a foundation for years to come. That’s really the most exciting thing about it. It’s been awesome working with the new coaches (and) working with my new teammates.”
- Jun 24, 2022
- Jun 24, 2022