The Chicago Bears have their coach. He's ready to build around their quarterback.
Matt Eberflus is just getting settled in in his new role as Bears head coach, but he's aware of the team's most pressing issues. Justin Fields is entering Year 2 with plenty of promise, but it's up to new general manager Ryan Poles and Eberflus to bring in talent to maximize Fields' talents and assist in his development as an NFL quarterback.
"Building the offense around him and his strengths," Eberflus said of his goal Monday, via ESPN. "What does that look like? I don't know right now. We have to look at him. We have to evaluate him. We have to see where his skill set is. And then see his camera. How does he see the game? How fast does he process? How fast does he do things and how can we stretch him as we go?"
The Bears owned the league's sixth-best defense in 2021, but it was a unit that too often was forced to carry the burdens left by a struggling offense. Matt Nagy's group couldn't hold up its end of the bargain, finishing 26th and 24th in total offense in the last two seasons.
Instead of doing more of the same with their new hire, Chicago turned to the Colts' defensive coordinator for the job. It seemed illogical on the surface -- why attempt to fix a broken offense with a defensive-minded coach? -- but Fields sees it differently. This is a chance for him to learn.
"I'm very excited," Fields said Monday. "Having a defensive head coach, I feel like there are some positives to that. I feel like being on the offense, you kind of know what the defense is doing, but you don't know what they're fully doing. ... When you have a defensive head coach, he's able to explain to you what their jobs are, what their certain assignments are in a certain coverage, so I think that's one plus on having a defensive head coach."
Fields will have an offensive coordinator with wisdom to impart on the second-year passer. Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy was hired to run Chicago's offense, and brings with him his own experience from his days of playing quarterback at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Akron. In his final two seasons spent with the Zips, Getsy led Akron to its first-ever Mid-American Conference title and first-ever bowl game appearance in 2005, breaking 24 school records in his two years there.
He's since spent the last seven years working in the NFL as an assistant, gaining the knowledge necessary to direct an offense, and perhaps more importantly, guide a young quarterback through the early portion of what Chicago hopes will be a long NFL career.
With coaches in place, the job is now Poles' to identify quality talent and pursue acquiring it. Eberflus described precisely what the Bears are seeking when asked Monday.
"Explosive athletic ability is one of the traits we are looking for," Eberflus said. "That equals chunk plays on offense and it equals stopping chunk plays on defense. If you want to score points, you have to get chunk plays and big plays. That's how you score."
Chicago will need to upgrade a leaky offensive line that struggled to protect Fields, infamously surrendering nine sacks in a Week 3 loss to Cleveland in 2021. From there, it will be about acquiring the explosive playmakers Eberflus described. Once that is in place, the Bears will be able to accurately evaluate Fields and his standing within the organization's long-term plans.
"Right now we're looking at everybody through the same lens, meaning that we're going to go back and we're going to watch those guys with a fresh eye and we're going to see where they are, in terms of what they need to develop," Eberflus said.
Such a process will begin this offseason. Should the Bears succeed, they'll hope to reap the benefits for years to come.
"Then let's grow and grow and grow," Eberflus said. "What can we execute now? What can we execute down the road? And we have to be creative, you have to be creative on offense. We plan to be."