Justin Fields

Bears Overreactions: Could Ryan Poles keep Justin Fields and draft Caleb Williams?

The Bears are speeding toward arguably the biggest decision in franchise history

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Matt Eberflus has checked off two critical boxes in the Bears' past two games.

In Minnesota, Eberflus finally got his first NFC North win in a 12-10 victory over the Vikings. On Sunday, the Bears exited the bye week and dominated the Detroit Lions to win back-to-back games for the first time in the Eberflus era.

After starting the season 0-4, the 5-8 Bears have steadied the ship and have an outside (very outside) shot at the playoffs with four games left.

While the Bears have slowly turned things around behind a near-elite defensive effort and improved play from quarterback Justin Fields, the Carolina Panthers are still searching for rock bottom.

Following the Panthers' loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Saints, the Bears now have a 95 percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick from the Panthers.

With the No. 1 pick almost secured and Fields playing better, this week's mailbag is (almost) all about what the Bears should do with potentially the biggest decision in franchise history.

Overreaction? Yes

I understand the anxiety that comes with the approaching decision. Fields has played good, efficient football of late. Everything seems to be coming together at the right time. If the Bears trade him, and he finishes blossoming elsewhere, it will leave a massive scar. But if the Bears pass on Caleb Williams and Drake Maye and they become stars while Fields plateaus, the decision-makers will be headed to LinkedIn, and Bears fans will be taking barbs from Al Michaels for another 20 years.

So, why not both?

It's true that you need two capable quarterbacks. But the idea of keeping Fields while drafting Williams or Maye to sit behind him as a backup is a disaster scenario waiting to happen.

Fields would handle it like a pro. I have no doubt.

But it would create an unnecessary quarterback controversy that would persist until either Fields or the No. 1 pick is sent elsewhere. It's easy to say they could co-exist, but the second the losses start piling up, calls for Fields' job would start. Hell, people wanted Tyson Bagent to be the full-time starter.

It's just not a tenable situation.

It's an awesome thing to do in Madden when you can remove the locker room aspect and outside noise.

If the Bears stick with Fields, they can't afford to turn down the haul they'll get for whoever wants to climb up to get Williams or Maye at one.

Overreaction? Yes.

Let's frame it as: It would be OK for the Bears to take Marvin Harrison Jr. at No. 1 overall.

In general, I agree with your assessment of both prospects. I think Harrison will enter the NFL and probably automatically be a top-10 receiver. He has everything you want in a star receiver. As can't miss as can't miss gets, in my opinion.

But most, if not all, NFL evaluators and decision-makers will tell you that if you don't have the quarterback, the quarterback who might be a Hall of Famer but might bust is still more valuable. As great as Harrison is, you can probably find someone to give you most of his production later in the first or in the second round. I think LSU's Malik Nabers, Oregon's Troy Franklin, Washington’s Rome Odunze, LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr., and Florida State's Keon Coleman will all be good to great pros.

The NFL is a quarterback league, and if there's a chance to get a guy with a Patrick Mahomes ceiling, that's more valuable since everything stems from that position.

That's why Fields' continued improved play is so important. If the Bears believe Fields is a budding star, teams who don't have an answer at quarterback will be crawling over themselves for the chance at five years with Williams.

That can lead the Bears to another trade haul and the ability to move down but ensure they get Harrison.

Drafting Harrison at No. 1, which I've heard suggested, might make sense in a draft that doesn't have two blue-chip quarterbacks. But not in this one.

That's the million-dollar question.

My guess would be they try to see if they can trade down to No. 2, pick up extra capital, and then see if they can move down slightly again. They'll likely have to ensure they stay in front of the Arizona Cardinals if they want Harrison. If so, No. 2 might be as far as they go.

If they feel comfortable with other options in the top 10, they could trade down to No. 2 and then trade down again into the four-to-six range and take either Nabers or Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner. Their second first-round pick will likely be in the eight-to-11 range, and Nabers should still be available there.

The Bears could also look to draft a left tackle, depending on how Braxton Jones finishes the season, or look at Georgia tight end Brock Bowers to add a different type of tight end to the passing game.

But I think the likely scenario is to trade down slightly, select Harrison, and then go best player available (probably edge rusher) in the back end of the top 10.

You could sell me on a Day 1 haul of Turner, Nabers, and a lot of picks for two trade downs, but passing on Harrison would be a tough pill to swallow.

Overreaction? No.

I like this deal on paper.

The Raiders are desperate for a long-term quarterback answer. Aidan O'Connell obviously isn't it.

But I think, without knowing who the next general manager is, that there is zero chance they would trade Crosby.

Crosby is a 26-year-old star edge rusher who is the only win of the Jon Gruden-Mike Mayock era.

Three positions are needed to field a consistent winner in the NFL: Quarterback, edge rusher, and left tackle.

This game is all about protecting and affecting the quarterback. Crosby is under contract and is entering his prime while producing at an insane clip.

Whoever takes over will almost certainly start their rebuild with him, especially considering the underwhelming return from Tyree Wilson in Year 1.

A deal with the Raiders would likely be built around a ton of draft capital and not include Crosby. Washington's trade-up for Robert Griffin III is a good starting point. Washington traded three first-round picks and a second-round pick to move up four spots from No. 6 to No. 2.

But if Poles is looking to add another premium player in a trade-down, Crosby is the right kind of target.

Overreaction? No.

I think having questions about the entire coordinator picture with the Bears is fair.

Eberflus does deserve a ton of flowers for turning the defense around. But I think it's fair to wonder if this would have happened if Alan Williams was still calling the defense. Eberflus seemed willing to play CEO and let the defense be Williams' unit.

Would he have just let Williams continue to run the defense in his way, even if it wasn't working? When would he have stepped in?

The hiring aspect of being a head coach is a big question mark for Eberflus. But given how well the defense has performed with him at the controls, I wouldn't be surprised to see him keep play-calling duties next year and bring in a DC to work under and learn under him.

I will push back on the "borrowed time" part of this. I've said for a while that Poles and the front office don't view things the way the outside world does. The Bears are certainly trending toward keeping Eberflus, and there's a chance they enter the offseason with a near-elite defense, a ton of cap space, and either the No. 1 pick at quarterback or a Justin Fields who has finally gotten everything to click.

I don't think they'll have an issue finding good candidates should they be in the market.

Ron Rivera exited last season on borrowed time, and he hired Eric Bienemy. There are only 32 OC jobs and 32 DC jobs.

The candidate pool will be vast if they open.

Can you trust him to make the right hire? We'll find out.

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