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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Usually when things blow up with the Chicago Bears, it’s late in the season. By then, the playoffs were out of the question. Jobs are at stake. We can look forward to changes at the start of the new year.
It’s not even Week 3 and the Bears had more drama on Wednesday than any good team can have in a season.
When it happens in September, there is still time. There is a time to save. It is unthinkable for an 0-2 team to make the postseason. It’s too early to write everything out and make head-coach candidate lists and start scouting 2024 quarterbacks.
But who will save the 2023 Bears?
Sources from around the league want to know, “What’s going on?” They found everything odd, from quarterback Justin Fields’ comments to the resignation of defensive coordinator Alan Williams.
The Bears find themselves, once again, in an unenviable position in the NFL, and it’s hard to see the light in the headlines.
When general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus took over, they inherited a disaster. The 2021 season was terrible in the building and on the field. It’s up to them to steer the Bears toward relevance.
Eberflus is now the head coach of a team that has lost 12 straight. Regardless of whether it was in his control, he didn’t look the part of someone who could save the Bears — but he had the most at stake.
Poles was tasked with turning the roster around and creating something Chicago hadn’t seen since the ’80s — a winning streak. Even back-to-back playoff seasons would be nice, something that hasn’t happened since 2005-06. The free agents he brought in haven’t made game-changing plays. Draft picks aren’t ready to count the way this roster needs to count them.
Poles isn’t going anywhere, but he can only do so much to save this team right now.
Fields kicked things off Wednesday with an emphatic news conference that — though not his intention, he later said — shifted responsibility to the coaching staff for his struggles. They say he thinks too much and doesn’t play the way he knows how — trusting his instincts.
Bears QB Justin Fields talks to the media in the locker room again. He wants to make it clear that he doesn’t blame the coaches. “I can play better. Point blank.”
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) September 20, 2023
There was a time when some in Chicago thought Fields could save the franchise. Based on his first two games this season, it’s hard to say he’s in position to save the 2023 Bears.
Chairman George McCaskey has been in charge of this franchise since 2011. During that time, the Bears have not won a playoff game. They are on their fifth head coach and third GM. He is in no position to save this team right now. Several decisions from McCaskey and former team president Ted Phillips put them in the situation they find themselves in.
Why Bears QB Justin Fields’ coaching comments stumped our experts
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has come under increased criticism for the game plan in the first two weeks of the season, and Fields added to that — again, whether that was his intention or not — on Wednesday. Maybe Getsy created a new, innovative, successful offense that could turn things around, but what gave him the confidence that could happen?
Not Williams, the former defensive coordinator who resigned Wednesday “to take care of my health and my family,” according to his statement, not the team, which simply said he submitted his resignation. Eberflus as the play caller may avoid any lasting impact of a coordinator resigning after Week 2, but the mystery surrounding it will remain.
DJ Moore? Tremaine Edmunds? Cole Kmet? Jaylon Johnson? Great players, but they’re not All-Pros who can put a team down on their backs.
It can’t be left to Braxton Jones, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, amid all the chaos.
Who inside Halas Hall has earned the trust of Bears fans, as well as players and other staff members, to fix this thing — again?
It could be the new president/CEO, Kevin Warren.
It’s probably too late for him to save the team this year, but his massive hiring is the main source of hope that when the organization finds itself in the doldrums, it can finally find a positive direction. Maybe it’s just hope because he’s new, and he’s here for this mess, but he started in April. This isn’t his team yet.
Justin Fields was unhappy, Alan Williams resigned and the Bears were in disarray
So often Bears find themselves in the same cycle. We see it again with the quarterback. They have a head coach who may be struggling to keep this thing together. This is not new to Halas Hall.
Warren is the difference. He now oversees the Poles and the football side while working to build a new stadium for the Bears. He checks in on everyone in the building and how everything works.
The most important decision that shaped this Bears team was not made by Warren. He has the resume and fresh eyes to figure out how to steer the team out of this mess and prevent the Bears from finding themselves in the proverbial rut again and again.
That doesn’t mean Warren will make the right decision. In the NFL, it comes down to the head coach and quarterback. Any future decisions on those positions will involve Warren.
Will he save the Bears? Maybe, maybe not, but for now, he’s their best chance.
(Photo by DJ Moore: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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