The quarterback position is the most scrutinized on any NFL team, and for the Chicago Bears, it’s no different. As the 2023 season approaches, the quarterback room is filled with talent and anticipation. Let’s preview the Bears’ quarterbacks and what fans can expect this upcoming season.
Leading the pack is the Bears’ starting quarterback, Justin Fields. Chicago drafted Fields thinking they finally found the franchise quarterback they’d spent over a century looking for. However, a year after getting drafted, the team had a new front office and a new coaching staff.
Would the new regime, led by general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus, have the same feeling? Well, after a 3-14 season, the answer is a resounding way. Poles spent the offseason overhauling the offense. He did his best to put Fields in a position to succeed. He added talent all throughout the offense. He added speedy, excellent route-running receivers. Additionally, he strengthened the tight ends and offensive line units. The Chicago Bears want Fields to succeed and he now has the tools to do so.
At first glance, it seems that Fields has struggled. In 27 career games, he completed just 59.7 percent of his passes for 4,112 passing yards. He has 24 touchdowns against 21 interceptions. However, it should be noted that the Bears lacked a lot of talent. Additionally, acquiring talent was difficult because the team was in salary cap hell.
Now, however, he has talented receivers like D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney, and Chase Claypool. Additionally, he has speedy rookie Tyler Scott. As for the tight ends, Cole Kmet has progressively gotten better. He is ready for a breakout season. In addition, the team acquired Robert Tonyan, an experienced tight end who has the ability to make big plays.
Poles turned the offensive line from a liability to maybe a strength. He used his first-round pick on Darnell Wright. Wright is a powerful, athletic tackle who will provide great protection.
Poles also signed free agent guard Nate Davis. Being a right guard, his presence on the field caused a shift on the line. Teven Jenkins moves from right guard to left guard. Left guard Cody Whitehair moves to center. Some of the starters from last season are now backups. That gives the Chicago Bears good depth. They have backups who have starting experience. That should make Fields feel very protected.
Fields can go out and show his full abilities. In college, he was incredibly accurate. He made a lot of big plays with his arm. Now he wants to show that he can do the same at the professional level.
Fields has shown in two seasons flashes of what he could do. He has a strong arm and made some beautiful pinpoint passes. They just haven’t been as consistent as the team wants.
Fields has shown an incredible ability to use his legs to make big plays. With the lack of talent on the offensive line and wide receivers unit, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy had to throw out most of his offensive system. He added numerous running plays for Fields. Fields responded with 1,143 rushing yards, the second-most by a quarterback in a season.
The Bears don’t want to depend as much on Fields’ running this season. They want him to pick and choose his running moments so he could still make big plays. The coaches want Fields to do more with his arm.
While critics talk about Fields not throwing well, if you check last season’s stats, you’ll see that he had some success as the season progressed. In his first seven games, this was his stat line: 55.9 percent completion, 74.6 passer rating, 5 touchdowns, 6 interceptions + 364 rushing yards & 2 touchdowns on the ground. In his final 8 games: 63.74 percent completion, 93.1 passer rating, 12 touchdowns, 5 interceptions + 779 rushing yards & 6 rushing touchdowns.
Fields was sacked 27 times in those first seven games and 28 times in his final eight. As you can see, his passing got better despite having the same ineffective targets and protection. In fact, he did not have his favorite target, Mooney, after Week 12.
Let’s see if Fields is able to take another step in his development and quiets the critics down.
Backing Fields is P.J. Walker. Walker is similar to Fields since he is a dual-threat quarterback. He can beat a defense with both his arm and legs. That is very valuable. Should Fields go down with an injury, there doesn’t need to be much adjustment when Walker steps in.
We saw with Fields what could happen when you have two completely different quarterbacks. In his rookie season, he was backing up Andy Dalton. Then-head coach Matt Nagy did not expect Fields to play much that season. He ran the offense around Dalton’s skill set. Fields did not even get a chance to work in the offense.
When Dalton went down, Fields came in. However, he was not ready to work that offense. The scheme did not utilize any of Fields’ skills. Nagy did not make any adjustments so Fields took a beating and struggled.
The Chicago Bears do not want a repeat of that. Walker can step in and not need a learning curve. While he likely cannot run the offense as well as Fields, the offense won’t be foreign to him. Additionally, Walker has experience throwing to D.J. Moore. Both were teammates with the Carolina Panthers the last three seasons. Now they stay together in Chicago. Walker can help Fields gain chemistry with his new WR1 quickly.
The third-string quarterback is Nathan Peterman. Peterman has not had much success in the NFL so far and he is a different quarterback than the other two. He is more of a pocket quarterback. However, if he is in the game something terribly wrong happened so things are already bad.
The NFL instituted a new rule on the third-string quarterback. After what we saw happen with the San Francisco 49ers in last year’s playoffs in which the Niners ran out of quarterbacks, teams are now allowed to carry a third quarterback on game day. Peterman can be that protection in case the unthinkable happens.
Third-string quarterbacks don’t get a lot of playing time. Peterman will likely spend his time with the scout team preparing the team on what to expect from opponents. There is a chance that someone else might be available sometime before the start of the season. Peterman’s place on the roster might not be guaranteed.
Overall, the Chicago Bears’ quarterbacks provide a blend of youth and experience that bodes well for the season. They have the raw talent, the guidance, and the work ethic needed to succeed at the highest level.
The success of the 2023 Chicago Bears will depend largely on their quarterbacks’ performance. Fans should be excited to see what these signal-callers can do during the season. With a supportive team and coaching staff behind them, these quarterbacks have all the tools they need to succeed. So, buckle up, Bears fans, it’s going to be an exciting ride!