By: Alex Patt
Far and away my favorite draft night is the NFL Draft. Regardless of what year it is, I always invest time into following it. This year was a weird year as a Chicago Bears fan. I had very little hope Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy would do something great, as I expected either something dumb or something just not very exciting. Pretty sure I was not the only one.
I was flipping between the draft and the Cubs game, which is funny because I was watching Marquee Network when the Bears traded up. Suddenly my phone blew up with many texts from friends about the Bears trading up. My heart started pounding and I immediately switched back to ESPN’s coverage. The Bears were on the clock.
I grabbed my phone and switched it to video mode to capture either a joyous or disgusted reaction. Despite promising myself that I would not react much to the Bears pick…here I was sitting on the edge of the couch awaiting the announcement. It was either going to be Justin Fields or Mac Jones, and I was praying it would be Fields.
“It’s going to be Mac Jones, isn’t it?” I thought to myself.
While I think Jones can do very well in the right system, trading up from 20 to 11 to take him would be insane. Fields was thought to be a top-10 pick by many and there was some surprise teams like the Denver Broncos (Aaron Rodgers *wink *wink) did not take him. With Fields still on the board, it felt like the Bears HAD to trade up and make this move…it made sense. Yet, this is the Bears we are talking about…
Did I jump up and down, yelling like a mad man? No. I let out a huge sign of relief and joyously repeated the words, “Thank you! Thank you!” While I was happy enough to jump and yell, I felt like this pick was such a relief I just wanted to sit and soak it in as much as I could. All my buddies were once again blowing up my phone and we were all shocked the Bears did the right thing.
Not only did the fans love it, but the experts are loving it. Ian Rapoport exclaimed how the Bears “FINALLY” got their QB. CBS Sports gave the Bears move an “A” grade. The great Mel Kiper said that the Bears took a QB like the ones they passed up on in 2017 in Mahomes and Watson. This is just a small junk of praise from experts. In 2017, the Bears were laughed at, and now they are getting pats on the back. The reaction is night and day compared to the Mitch Trubisky draft day. If the Bears really wanted to repeat that day, they either would have taken Jones with the 11th pick or mortgaged everything to take Trey Lance.
So now the Bears have their franchise QB, next up is development. HC Matt Nagy, QB coach John Defilippo, and OC Bill Lazor will be key in working with him moving forward. While it may seem too soon to anoint Fields as a great NFL QB just yet, it is worth saying that he will likely have a better development system than Trubisky had a few years ago.
Think about it. When Trubisky was drafted his head coach was old, defensive-minded John Fox. The veteran QB on the squad was…Mike Glennon. Even when Trubisky got into games he was handcuffed by the coach’s scheme. Yes, Mark Sanchez was there as well but still. There is a ton more that goes into coaching a QB, more than I or many football fans know, but seeing a more structured plan in place for Fields already makes me feel better.
As of right now I would imagine Andy Dalton is still the guy starting the 2021 season. While not exciting or what we necessarily want to see, it makes sense. Many rookie QBs sit behind veterans when they begin their careers. Dalton might not be the guy he used to be, but I feel he can help provide more to Fields than Glennon did to Trubisky. With a plan in place, I do not see the need to just throw Fields to the wolves. They need a solidified plan and they need to stick to it to ensure proper development.
And no, Dalton did not get the Glennon treatment. Dalton came in on a one-year deal knowing he was the starting “veteran” of the group, he is not being treated like “the guy” going forward like the Bears indicated to Glennon. I think a guy like Dalton understands what is going on and can at the very least be a solid leader and mentor…even if he is washed.
Can the Bears FINALLY have a good QB? My goodness I hope so…lets ride.
Welcome to Chicago, Justin Fields! #BearDown