The Chicago Bears offense. Those words could be presented to children to teach them the meaning of the word oxymoron.
Sure the Bears play in an unpredictable climate. Near the end of September, summer breaks and anything could happen, which leads to some treacherous playing conditions at Soldier Field, but it’s impossible for that to be the only reason their offense hasn’t been able to shift past first gear for the majority of the last 100 years. Erik Kramer, Jay Cutler, Marc Trestman, Matt Nagy — no one has been able to turn this offense around while Brett Favre and Tom Brady attack winter weather like Homer Simpson on his snow plow.
Justin Fields is the second quarterback the Bears have traded up to draft in five years. No one besides Ryan Pace liked the move to select Mitchell Trubisky, but Fields represented the most hope that the Bears have had for a quarterback since Jim McMahon was named Offensive Rookie of the Year in the strike-shortened 1982 season. With a top quarterback prospect playing in an offensive constructed by a person who once called plays for Andy Reid, the ball was finally supposed to fly through the lake-effect snow.
Instead, the year turned into a disaster. Fields’ biggest problem is he holds onto the ball too long, and the Bears did not have the offensive line for that to work. Nagy did so little to make life easier for the rookie that it could almost be considered malpractice. Last year went so poorly that in Fields’ best performance of the season, Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bears lost in what was one of the worst officiated games I have watched in any sport.
The Bears cleaned house after the season, getting rid of Nagy and Pace. They hired former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Matt Eberfluss as coach, but they also brought in Luke Getsy — Aaron Rodgers’ former QB coach — to run the offense.
“I think Luke’s a great mastermind,” Fields said to NBC Sports’ Peter King. He’s a great offensive coach. He’s probably the best quarterback coach I’ve had in my life.”
That’s how Fields answered the question “Does this offense fit you?” With all of the drama surrounding Teven Jenkins and the Bears’ perceived lack of depth at wide receiver, there is real positivity that should make Bears fans finally smile about the team this offseason.
Of course, Fields wouldn’t say anything negative about the new coaching staff one month before the season begins, but all he had to say is that Getsy is a great coach, and he is enjoying working with him. He didn’t have to gush over Getsy in that way, which means that this season is already starting off on a much better foot than 2021. Last year Nagy was adamant about starting Andy Dalton to begin the season, after the former Cincinnati Bengal did little to nothing with the Cowboys offense in 2020 after Dak Prescott’s injury and couldn’t get to the playoffs in a division that the then-Washington Football Team won with a 7-9 record.
Fields sounds like a person who started a new job and is finally able to take a deep breath after leaving a tough work environment. His play during training camp has gradually gotten better, and his best practice was on Saturday when he was without four of his top six wide receivers and three starting offensive linemen. In a drill called “Move It,” the offense had the ball at their own 30-yard line, and had to get into field-goal range with 55 seconds on the clock and no timeouts. With many backups on the field, Fields was still able to accomplish the goal.
The regular season is close, but still ever so far away with the Bears’ first regular season game on Sunday, Sept. 11. It’s going to take half of a season to judge his progress, and the Bears still have some problems on their hands with Jenkins and also All-Pro Roquan Smith’s holdout. There isn’t much expected from the Bears in 2022, but Fields feeling as good as he does about his new offensive coordinator is probably the best takeaway the franchise and its fans can have from training camp.
Maybe, just maybe, there will be an offense at Soldier Field that can finally move smoothly through the rain, sleet, and snow.