If we have learned anything in the season's first two weeks, the Bears are in for a very long 2023. The chaos of Halas Hall is emblematic of the same issue that has plagued the Bears for the last decade, if not more. In breaking down the current state of the Bears organization, I will pinpoint the team's primary issue and the necessary moves to ensure that the most exciting part of the season is not happening in April but in February.
The easy answer to why the Bears continue to fail is Justin Fields. It's the answer that frees the organization from years of incompetence. It's the wrong answer, but they hope you don't figure it out.
When it comes to Field's development or lack thereof, there are glaring issues with his footwork and his processing. Both of which he seemingly inherited after spending time with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. These need to be fixed and can be, but neither is the primary reason for Chicago's inability to complete a rebuild that leads to trophy hoisting. The answer to solving Chicago's woes is culture, well, and literally everything, but it starts with culture.
Before the boos echo in, let's dive in.
Winning organizations prioritize culture and leadership who drive that culture forward. At their best, the Bears were rarely the best roster in the league, but they had leaders on both sides of the ball, whether it be Mike Ditka, Olin Kreutz, or Brian Urlacher, who drove the team forward.
Defining culture for the Bears would allow them to find the right leaders for their team and allow them to take risks in the draft. Let's look at the last two drafts, for example.
Darnell Wright is a great player and likely a staple for Chicago's offensive line for the foreseeable future. He may even be critical to keeping Justin Fields healthy with the latest news of Braxton Jones now on Injured Reserve. He sports one of the best Run Block win rates in the NFL, so don't hear what I'm not saying. Darnell Wright was a good pick. But was he the best player available? No.
According to PFF, Jalen Carter is the league's highest-graded rookie in the entire NFL and one of the highest-graded Defensive Tackles in the league. Last year, the Bears passed on George Pickens, who has become one of the league's most exciting young year-two wide receivers.
Of course, these players had questions about character and maturity, leading to them falling in their respective drafts.
Who took a chance on these players? Howie Roseman and Mike Tomlin. Teams that can trust their staff and front office to get the best out of these players and be coaches and mentors that can help them have longevity in their careers and a long-term impact on their organizations. Speaking of Mike Tomlin, if he has chosen to move on from a young player, that's a great indicator you should not be buying that player (Cough Cough, Chase Claypool).
It is much less about the players themselves because we can find instances of this happening every year. We need to ask why the Bears draft who they draft and why they can't draft players like Carter or Pickens. The answer is CULTURE.
So, how do we fix it? Strong veteran leadership and experienced coaches who are not just teachers but mentors. Let's start at the top.
Ownership: This won't change, but the McCaskeys are bad owners who don't understand the game or how to adapt as the NFL evolves. Fixing ownership isn't really on the table.
The Move: Regrettably, stay put.
Team President: Kevin Warren got handed a ship on fire above deck and a giant hole below deck. He is the right man for the job; he needs to start mobilizing.
The Move: Give Kevin Warren a voice starting right now.
General Manager: The time for questions about Ryan Poles is here. With some bad decisions with Chase Claypool and Velus Jones (unforgivable), he also masterfully has set the Bears up with assets to ensure their future if he can draft well. A young first-time GM is not a death knell for this team, but he needs to learn fast to turn this team around, and the starter pistol went off six months ago.
The Move: Tighten the leash. Poles needs to hit EVERY pick he makes in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Head Coach: Matt Eberflus is not the man for this job. He is well suited to be a coordinator, but the Head Coach needs to be a pillar of reliability for his team, and we have seen little evidence of that. Firing Eberflus is the first shake-up to getting back on track.
The Move: Fire Flus, Hire Eric Bienemy. This was the move to make last year, but we will have another shot in 2024. Bienemy has experience working with winners, whether it be players or coaches. He is the veteran coaching candidate and leader that this young team needs. He decided to separate from Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid and will be a hot commodity this offseason after showing what he can do on his own. Hiring Eric Bienemy and naming him the play-caller is pivotal to the Bears' success. Brian Johnson and Kellen Moore are also fan favorites, but they would be a tier below Bienemy as a Head Coaching candidate.
Offensive Coordinator: Luke Getsy has been among the least creative and disinterested playcallers I have ever seen. If we take anything from this experience, it is to stop hiring OCs tied to All-Time greats at Quarterback. Getsy needs to go, and if there is only one move we make, firing Getsy is the one.
The Move: Fire Getsy, Hire Hank Fraley. Fraley is currently the offensive line coach for the Detroit Lions for the last four seasons. Largely going unspoken is how impressive he has been during his tenure with the Lions. He is a steady and consistent presence for Detroit that has helped them put together one of the most talented offensive lines in the league. The critical point here will be this only works if you hire an Eric Bienemy or Ben Johnson-type Head Coach who can remain the play-caller. Fraley would be integral to investing in and building our offensive line, especially with the heavy investment we made in Darnell Wright as our centerpiece of that line. Pairing Fraley with Ryan Poles could lead to a considerable advantage in protecting Justin Fields. There is also the added bonus of taking an impressive coach from a division opponent.
Defensive Coordinator: Well, considering we no longer have one, this will be a significant move for us to make in the immediate future. I won't speculate on what has happened with Alan Williams, but it wasn't working, and now we have a fresh start with this coaching vacancy.
The Move: Continue to let Flus call the defense. Hire Dino Vasso in the offseason. Vasso is currently the Defensive Back coach for the Houston Texans and formerly was an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Eagles during their Superbowl run. Adding another coach who has seen and been a part of a winning culture continues the trend we are going for in 2024. Vasso gets handed the keys to a defense that could have one of the more impressive secondaries in the league when healthy.
The Draft: The draft brings all kinds of variables that honestly wouldn't be done justice crammed at the end of this article, so I will say this for now: the only way the Bears should entertain drafting a first-round Quarterback is if they can get Caleb Williams. If they have to pay too much or can't find a way to draft Williams, they stay the course with Justin Fields and continue building this team around him. Some combination of Marvin Harrison Jr., Olumuyiwa Fashanu, or Laiatu Latu would all give us an edge that would be too good to pass up while potentially trading down a spot or two and gaining more assets along the way.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments or drop me a follow on Twitter (X) at @Marco_NFL. The best is yet to come, Bear Down!