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Bears Mailbag: Offensive struggles, trade deadline moves, and so much more

The (2-1) Chicago Bears will head east to take on the New York Giants this Sunday. Before each game, we assess the week that was and what to expect in the near future in our weekly installment of the Windy City Gridiron mailbag.

Houston Texans v Chicago Bears Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

It may not feel like it right now, but somehow the Chicago Bears find themselves at (2-1) as they head into Week 4. All things considered, I think most fans would have taken this three-game start to kick off the season if they were asked about it back in March. So, why does it feel like the Bears are closer to being bad than a good team? A lot of that likely comes down to the offense's performance so far. Namely, the passing game and quarterback Justin Fields.

Join us weekly during the season as I try my best to answer your in-season Bears questions. This week, we'll dive into questions about this offense, the quarterback, and much more. With Week 3 in the books, let's dissect the team's current state and what's to come.

The start to the season, especially offensively, has not been what many fans had hoped for. The team's current leading receiver is Equanimeous St. Brown (four receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown). Miami Dolphin's receiver Tyreek Hill has almost accomplished that yard total in a single catch this season.

Then you couple that with the injury to Byron Pringle (placed on Injured Reserve for at least the next four games with a calf injury), and you've got some problems. Now, I'll be the first to say I was not expecting any impressive breakouts from unknown players. With that being said, I expect Darnell Mooney to be a much bigger factor, and I expected rookie Velus Jones Jr. to have seen the field by now.

This group of pass catchers is a mess, and I'm not sure you'd find anyone to disagree with that sentiment. Even so, they are expected to get Jones Jr. back (maybe Sunday), and N'Keal Harry can come off of Injured Reserve after Week 4's game. That means they could get a pair of receiving options back in the fold very soon, which act as quality deadline additions in some ways. Does that rule out an outside acquisition over the next month-plus? Absolutely not. What it does do, is give the team an "easier" chance to see a couple of players that already know this offense.

Knowing the offense and being able to hit the ground running holds plenty of value. I wouldn't rule out a deadline addition over the next month or so, but I do believe that for the time being, they're going to roll with what they have and treat their two upcoming returning players as enough of a push to see how it plays out.

New York Giants v Tennessee Titans Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

I touched on it a little above, and I'll expand on it more here. The reality is it will be tough for the Bears to make a trade for a receiver that will have a big impact in 2022. In a perfect world, they would trade for someone with upside, and they'd come in and pick up the offense right away. Unfortunately, that's not realistic.

The reality is that any outside receiver they bring in will not only have to learn a new offense, but the coaching staff will have to find a role for them in an offense that has averaged less than 100 yards per game through the air thus far. I'm also not sold that general manager Ryan Poles is going to be open to trading away any sort of valuable future draft compensation for a receiver that their current team doesn't want.

That said, I think four obvious candidates could benefit from a change of scenery.

  1. Denzel Mims (New York Jets)
  2. Kenny Golladay (New York Giants)
  3. Darius Slayton (New York Giants)
  4. Kendrick Bourne (New England Patriots)

All four of those names have seen minimal playing time so far this season, and all four were rumored trade/cut candidates at the end of the preseason.

Mims is the least proven of the four but has some untapped upside. Golladay was a Bears' target last off-season under the old regime, but his time with the Giants has been less than pleasant. The big issue with Golladay will be his contract. He still has well over $10 million owed in base salary for 2022 and another $4 million guaranteed for 2023. Slayton is another Giants receiver who once had a quality role and now is not seeing the field. He'd be a quality buy low target with the proper expectations. Finally, Bourne could make the most sense. He has seen the most playing time, but there has been plenty of talks that the Patriots would deal him for the right price.

Speaking of price, it's hard for me to see the Bears giving up much more than a Day 3 pick. A 5th round pick could be appropriate for someone like Bourne, but the rest of these players are future Round 6 or Round 7-type trades. Again, I just can't see Poles using many draft chips for middling options during the season.

Unfortunately for Fields and this passing offense, we are seeing that regardless of what the front office is thinking, a team's coaching staff will do anything they can to win games. Now, I do believe their run-heavy approach will change over time, but as of right now, we're seeing a 1960s offense rolled out in the year 2022. For fans, it's not a very fun sight to see, especially if you had high hopes of sizable offensive improvements being made under new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

The good news? The passing offense can't get much worse, right? Fields are not even averaging 100 yards per game through the air through the first three games of the season. The only way to go from here is up, at least in my opinion. The bigger question is how fast we'll see that improvement. Much of that will come down to the trust this coaching staff has in Fields' ability to make plays with his arm.

As far as making the right or wrong head coaching hire, it's far too early to tell. Yes, Doug Pederson has Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars playing really good football. No, that doesn't mean that he would have come to Chicago (running a similar offense to former head coach Matt Nagy) and been able to produce the same results with Fields under center. Many forget that the Jaguars spent a ton of money this off-season with an eye on improving their offense. The Bears did not have those same resources to use, and we are seeing the results of the current off-season play out.

At this point, all we can do is give it time. It doesn't mean we have to be happy with the product. It doesn't even mean that we have to believe that it'll get magically better. But we do need to have some patience in the process and realize there are still 14 games to go this season, which means plenty of time to get going in the right direction.

On each drive, coaches and players are in constant communication. Whether they are struggling or striving, it makes minimal difference. The Bears' offense is no different, and honestly, I would expect there to be even more communication as new as this offense is to the entire group. Sometimes the television broadcasts wait for certain shots on the sidelines but make no mistake, Luke Getsy, Fields, and the rest of this offense are operating the same as any other unit on the sideline, regardless of their success, or lack thereof.

Houston Texans v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Bears will have multiple tough decisions to make at the deadline. I know a lot of the talk is about adding a better receiver, but they could also off-load players they don't deem long-term fits. Edge rusher Robert Quinn is the primary player that comes to mind, but David Montgomery could be in that conversation too. A lot of that will be predicated on how they view his future with the team.

Montgomery is one of the leaders of this team and has been one of the few constant presences over the past few years. With that being said, I'm not sure the Bears are going to be in the business of extending running backs, especially when Khalil Herbert has performed as well as he has when called upon. It's still early in the season, and maybe I end up wrong, but I do think the Bears should think about dealing Montgomery IF (and only if) they don't plan on re-signing him in the off-season. My gut feeling? I think they'll keep him until the end of the year and then go from there. I'm sure they wouldn't mind keeping him around, but much like Roquan Smith, the price point may end up being the issue.

Are we sure? I know I'm not. That said, I think the Bears have plenty of options at the tackle positions. I'm also not in favor of moving Teven Jenkins again. Assuming Lucas Patrick's hand is ready to go soon, I'd slide Patrick to center and give Jenkins the full-time snaps at right guard.

I could be wrong, but I think the Bears' search for their best five will continue throughout the season. I'd also say that it's worth remembering that at some point, Alex Leatherwood will be back from mono, and I'm sure they'll continue to work him in at right tackle. That doesn't mean he'll see meaningful snaps any time soon, but I wouldn't rule out the team giving him a chance before the end of the year.

At this point, I'd start with moving Patrick to center and keeping Jenkins at right guard. The next area I would be looking at is improving the offensive tackle spot if it does not improve soon. Riley Reiff would be my guess to slot in at tackle if they choose to make a move there.