First & Long: Fields Debate (Tired), Bears Rebuild (Wired), Harbaugh Mulling Contract Offer, Give Me Luke Goedeke and Tee Higgins

Let’s be honest: The polarization of Chicago’s starting quarterback began when he was given number one to wear as a Bear. That said, the recent social media coverage of the Justin Fields debate has reached new lows. Sometimes, being a Bears fan is downright embarrassing, and I’ll give you a perfect example. Both of the statements below came from the same social media account.

  1. The Bears must draft Caleb Williams because Fields is not the answer and will never be a top NFL quarterback.
  2. The Broncos want to move on from Russell Wilson. Ryan Poles could get one hell of a haul from Denver for Fields.

Do the Broncos even have a haul after trading all those picks for Wilson and hiring Sean Payton? By my count, they have six picks next year and will draft in the 12-20 range with no second-round picks available. By the way, Fields would probably net a couple of second-round picks at the most, which is hardly a haul, in case you’re wondering.

I call these types of fans “meatballs” though I refuse to call them out by name publicly. There are plenty of competitive bloggers who encourage this type of behavior by writing ludicrous articles, always citing unnamed sources. For older fans like myself, many Bears blogs (without naming those sites) are the equivalent of the National Enquirer and the Weekly World News. We have a generation of fans who believe TMZ is a verifiable news source and that gaming trades in fantasy leagues and on video games produce the same results as the real-world NFL. Yikes.

Alex tweets below for all knowledgeable (read: non-meatball) Bears fans.

If you think about it logically, moving on from Fields is the exact sort of thing that might eventually cost Poles his job. He’s in Year 1 of his rebuild after unimaginatively (though necessary) tanking in 2022. Anybody that counts last season against Poles, Fields, or head coach Matt Eberflus should leave the team’s fanbase and never return. You don’t blame anybody for losing or playing poorly when that is done by design by the guy calling the shots.

Further, the McCaskeys hired Poles specifically to avoid the cycle of rebuilding the team and drafting a franchise QB every three years. Poles spent a fortune before this season improving his defense, which is now No. 12 after finishing 31st of 32 teams last season. He traded for game-breaking wide receiver D.J. Moore. The Bears still have a shot at the playoffs and have doubled their win total from last season with two games left.

Start over? That’s ridiculous. The Bears lost four winnable games in the fourth quarter this season. They could easily be 10-5 and a lock to make the playoffs. If you truly believe Fields cost the Bears all four of those games you are ignoring every single facet of the game except quarterback play. Don’t be that fan. Conservative playcalling while holding a lead is leaving Chicago’s defense on the field much too long too many times.

But, Poles has a plan and it is working. He made last year’s trade with the Panthers knowing he would have a shot at the top overall pick and called it right. He can do that again by identifying the biggest potential bust in this year’s draft and trading that No. 1 pick to the team that covets that QB the most. Let the man do his job. If anyone needs to go, it’s probably Luke Getsy. Eberflus just might agree with that ($), too.

Bears News & Notes

There’s a Flag…On the Play

Petition to have Luke Goedeke traded to the Bears.

Scout Team

Film Room

Chicago’s defense, led by Montez Sweat, Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Edwards, Jaquan Brisker, Jaylon Johnson, and Kyler Gordon, will be a force next season. That’s why Poles will keep Eberflus. The offense is improving, so Getsy is likely to return, too, with Fields as his QB. I’ll sit here with a smile on my face and wait for your head to explode.

Northern Exposure

Around the NFL

The Broncos trade to acquire Wilson from the Seahawks is one of the league’s all-time worst deals.

J.J. Watt has some harsh words for GMs who declined to pursue Lamar Jackson this offseason.

Jackson is one of the favorites to win League MVP honors.

Larry Fitzgerald isn’t taking the Lions too seriously despite their 2023 success.

Baker Mayfield has the Buccaneers one win away from the NFC South title.

Jim Harbaugh reportedly has a very lucrative contract offer on the table from Michigan that includes a clause stating that he can not entertain taking an NFL job for a year. His reluctance to take the deal should be considered a window into his thinking.

Harbaugh will not be coaching the Bears next season, however.

Two-Minute Drill

Tee Higgins didn’t get the extension he wanted from the Bengals last season and is eligible for free agency after the season ends. Bears fans want Poles to draft Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., and he’d be a good one, but Higgins is elite. CBS analyst Joel Corey projects Higgins as a likely franchise candidate, but Cincinnati might have to rework a few existing contracts, possibly the one they gave Joe Burrow. The franchise tag for receivers is projected to be $20.714 million. The wide receiver’s mom also sounds very much like most Bears fans.

Higgins is having a down year and is playing like he knows he has no future with the Bengals. I think we said the same things about D.J. Moore and the Panthers when the Bears acquired him. However, in the five games that Higgins has played without Ja’Marr Chase opposite him, he has 31 catches for 511 yards and 3 scores. With Higgins and Moore, the Bears could lead the NFL in YAC. Signing Higgins — if he’s available — also allows Poles to draft desperately needed offensive and defensive linemen.

Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust

  1. Williams had 8 fumbles and an average time to throw of 3.14 seconds for USC in 2023. Fields has three fumbles with an ATT of 3.12 seconds as a pro.
  2. The Ravens have seven wins by 14+ points this season. All of those opponents are currently above .500 (Texans, Browns, Lions, Seahawks, Bengals, Jaguars, and 49ers).
  3. The Browns are the first NFL team to win at least 10 games in a season with four different quarterbacks each earning at least one win since QB starts were first tracked beginning in 1950.

From the Podium

  • “We have to do a better job with short yardage. There is no question about that. You have to have a staple. Something that you go to. It’s usually the sneak, or the wedge, or the rugby, or whatever you’re calling that [Eagles] play. We’ve done that a couple of times, but we need to be more effective. … And then you need some stuff that hits the perimeter because teams will load up inside on you, pack everybody in, and leave themselves vulnerable on the outside. We certainly have that in our arsenal, too, but it comes down to execution.” – Eberflus
  • “I’m not perfect at anything. To be honest, I have a lot of work to do, but that work’s going to be put in. It’s going to be done. I’m excited for this Sunday. This matchup we have against Atlanta, going against a talented defense. Everybody’s getting ready for it, so it’ll be fun. I’ve also got too much to focus on today to worry about tomorrow.” – Fields
  • “There’s been a tremendous amount of growth [with Fields]. I mean, just in this season alone, how far he’s come ― taking care of the football, being in control of the game. … His ability to progress is better, his footwork is better, I think the protection part of it is outstanding, the completion percentage part of it is good, he’s throwing the ball accurately, I think the extended play part of it is a lot of fun to see him progress through that. So, there’s been a lot of areas.” – Getsy
  • “Justin is a highly intelligent person who handles a lot of stuff that we ask him to do. We’re able to do more because of how much he can handle, so I think from that perspective…he does an excellent job.” – Getsy
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