Justin Fields

Bears' decisions spell trouble for QB future, whether it's Justin Fields or Caleb Williams

The Bears' moves Wednesday could say a lot or nothing about Justin Fields' future in Chicago

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Bears found the first answer to an offseason of uncomfortable questions Wednesday when they elected to retain head coach Matt Eberflus but fire offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and several offensive staff members.

It's an answer that signals the franchise still refuses to think bold and once again finds itself in a never-ending cycle of losing perpetuated by an inability to get a general manager, coach, and quarterback on the same timeline.

The decision to retain Eberflus but fire Getsy leaves the spotlight for the impending decision at quarterback and whether the Bears will stick with Justin Fields or move on from him and draft either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye with the No. 1 overall pick.

One can read the decision to keep Eberflus as a tacit acknowledgment that the Bears will stick with Fields because the head coach will need to win in 2024, and Fields is the best chance to do so.

Those on the other side of the Bears' quarterback debate will view it as a signal that they plan to draft a quarterback at No. 1 overall. Having Caleb Williams or Drake Maye is the best selling point the Bears will have for a potential in-demand offensive coordinator, and it could be a lifeline to give Eberflus a two-year window as long as everything is pointing up in Year 1 with the rookie signal-caller regardless of record.

Wednesday's moves can be seen as a Rorschach Test as it pertains to one's feelings about Fields and his future in Chicago. Those who want him to stay view the firing of Getsy but the retention of Eberflus as an acknowledgment that it was the system and not the quarterback that was the issue. Others will see it as a sign the Bears plan to scrap the entire offense, quarterback included, and start anew.

Conventional wisdom says the move to clean out most of the offensive staff but keep Eberflus spells the end for Fields in Chicago.

Things have been seeming to trend that way prior to Getsy's firing. Fields played well down the stretch but never delivered the resounding closing statement needed to move the Bears firmly into his corner. The 24-year-old quarterback said he had "no regrets," but said goodbye to the Chicago media and Bears fans after the season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers "just in case."

It's going to be hard for the Bears to woo a highly-coveted offensive coordinator this offseason, given the shaky ground Eberflus finds himself on. Yes, there are only 32 of these jobs, but most coordinators will prioritize heading to a place where they will have multiple years to succeed. Asking said OC candidates to develop an offense tailored around what Fields is successful at in the NFL would likely further thin out the candidate pool.

This would also be Fields' third offensive coordinator and third system in four seasons. Fields talked this season about how it took until Year 2 of Getsy's system for him to be fully comfortable. Playing quarterback in the NFL is a mentally demanding job that requires countless hours to master the verbiage of a system. Asking Fields to learn a new system without guaranteeing him, the new coordinator, and Eberflus the 2025 season would be a recipe for disaster.

Owning the No. 1 overall pick and the right to draft and develop either Williams or Maye is the Bears' best selling point to get a quality OC willing to join a staff that might be cleaned out in a year.

It won't fully solve their problem, but the potential to tie yourself to a generational prospect should be intriguing for an up-and-coming coordinator looking to make a name for himself. That should at least give the Bears a good pool of candidates.

All of that points to Fields playing elsewhere in 2024.

But the Bears don't often subscribe to conventional wisdom, so it's not out of the realm -- the one the Bears operate in -- to hire an OC with the expectation that he builds a system around FIelds, and everyone marches forward from there.

Either way, it's not a winning formula.

Whether or not the Bears stick with Fields or draft a quarterback, the decision makers at Halas Hall have given whomever their franchise quarterback an impossible task. Either they are going to ask Fields to learn his third system in four seasons and thrive again with a losing hand, or they will draft a rookie quarterback to a lame-duck staff and repeat the mistakes made with John Fox and Mitch Trubisky and Matt Nagy and Justin Fields.

It would be unserious to correlate Wednesday's move directly to the impending quarterback decision. But the Bears have proven themselves to be unserious time and time again, and there's no reason to think this will be any different.

Either they will ask Fields to prove himself in a new system, or they will restart the cycle of quarterback failure and wonder why they can't get it right.

Neither is a recipe for success. But the Bears have been looking for one for almost half a century. Maybe it slipped under a desk in a back office at Halas Hall. Perhaps they'll find it one day.

But not on a day that too closely resembles a number of other failures in franchise history.

When the Bears decided to keep Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace after the 2020 season, then-president Ted Phillips infamously said:

"Have we gotten the quarterback situation completely right? No. Have we won enough games? No. But everything else is there."

History, as it so often does, repeats itself, especially at Halas Hall. The Bears still haven't got the quarterback position right. Wednesday's moves don't inspire confidence they are on the right track, regardless of what the future holds for Justin Fields.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us