Bears 'All in on' Justin Fields and 'Going to Set Him Up to Succeed,' Says GM Poles

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 6, 2022

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 20: Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) reacts after a play during a game between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings on December 20, 2021, at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles gave a strong vote of confidence to quarterback Justin Fields ahead of the 2022 NFL season.

"We're all in on Justin. I believe in Justin. Our coaches believe in Justin," Poles said Friday on ESPN 1000. "Like I said from the beginning, we're going to set him up to succeed."

Whether the Bears' front office has done everything in its power to put Fields in the best position for success is up for debate.

Allen Robinson, who topped 1,100 receiving yards in both 2019 and 2020, was phased out of the offense last year and allowed to leave in free agency, where he signed with the reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.

The only notable additions to the Bears' passing attack were former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle, who signed a one-year contract, and Tennessee wideout Velus Jones Jr., a third-round draft pick.

Those are solid depth acquisitions, but they're unlikely to provide the type of game-changing performances Robinson delivered in the past.

That aspect of Poles' comments aside, there's no doubt it's an important year for Fields.

The 2021 first-round selection put together an up-and-down rookie season. His overall numbers were lackluster, as he tallied nine total touchdowns (seven passing and two rushing) and 15 turnovers (10 interceptions and five lost fumbles) in 12 games (10 starts).

There were moments of promise, though. He rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown in Week 8 against the San Francisco 49ers and his best game as a passer came in his final start of the season, going 26-of-39 for 285 yards with one TD and no picks against the Minnesota Vikings.

At his best, he'll be able to put those two aspects of his game together to become a prototypical modern quarterback who wins games both through the air and on the ground.

His development starts with doing a better job of protecting the football. Along with his 15 turnovers, he had seven additional fumbles that were recovered by the Bears. It's hard to win consistently when you're putting the ball in danger that frequently.

In April, Fields said it "feels good" to enter the season as an unquestioned starter after splitting time with veteran Andy Dalton last year.

"Last year was my rookie year, of course, my first in the league, didn't know if I was going to start or not, didn't know if I was going to play, so my mindset right now is completely different than last year," he told reporters. "I'm just excited to get started."

The talent is there for Fields to become a Pro Bowl quarterback within the next few years. Turning raw talent into weekly production is a hurdle some players never jump, however. So showing at least some progress this season is a must.

If he does, there will be ample pressure on Poles and Co. to make serious upgrades to the weapons around him before 2023.