With Justin Fields expected to return soon and the defense near full health, the 3-7 Bears believe a victory over the NFL's worst team could be what finally gets the ball rolling.
But with just seven games left in what has been a disappointing season, it's time for us to focus our gaze on the future of the Ryan Poles rebuild and what life might look like after 2023.
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That's where this edition of the mailbag takes us --- into the unknown:
I'm going to frame this as "the Bears will want to keep Justin Fields with a new coaching staff."
I'm on the record as saying I think Matt Eberflus will get at least one more season as long as the Bears don't completely combust over the final seven games. I don't think he will be judged at all on the 2022 season. He has dealt with a lot of adversity this season, the defense has improved since he took over the play-calling duties, and Fields has so far missed four games.
If the Bears finish 5-12 or better, I think Eberflus is safe.
But Fields and the Bears' quarterback uncertainty should play a huge role in Ryan Poles and Kevin Warren's decision on the future of the coaching staff.
The Bears have made the same mistake with the past two coaching staffs pre-Eberflus. They drafted Mitchell Trubisky when John Fox was on the hot seat. They fired Fox after Trubisky's rookie season and hoped Matt Nagy could work with the young quarterback. Then, they drafted Fields when the seat was scolding for both Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace. Both Nagy and Pace were fired after Fields' rookie season and Poles and Eberflus were brought in with a talented but raw asset that they didn't draft at quarterback.
The Bears are in danger of repeating that mistake for the third time this offseason. Assuming he gets a stay of execution, Eberflus' seat will be hot this offseason. The Bears likely will have a chance at Drake Maye or Caleb Williams. Are they going to draft another young quarterback to stick with a potential lame-duck coaching staff?
The best way to successfully rebuild is to have a coaching staff and a quarterback that are on the same timeline. The staff picks their guy, and they get time to grow together. If Eberflus and his staff are fired, the Bears should also look to move on from Fields and let the next staff have a clean slate with the guy of their choosing.
Either way, unless Fields lights it up as a passer once he returns, it feels like the Bears will move on from him this offseason. He deserves a fresh start after being saddled with two horrid situations to start his NFL career.
As the Bears look to the future, it's important the quarterback they choose and the staff are paired up and fully aligned. That hasn't been the case with their past two swings at quarterback, and it has cost them.
Let's look at this as: "Do the Bears have a long-term answer at left tackle?"
Braxton Jones has been solid for a fifth-round pick out of Southern Utah. He has impressed at times but has struggled with penalties and mental mistakes this season.
I think the best-case scenario for the Bears is Jones becomes a high-quality swing tackle, and they find an elite blue-chipper to play left tackle.
Those are much easier to find in the first round of the draft. It's very rare for premium left tackles to hit the free-agent market. Those are the players teams draft, develop, extend, and extend again.
The Bears will have a good shot at drafting a top-tier left tackle prospect with their second first-round pick come April.
This class has two high-quality tackles in Notre Dame's Joe Alt and Penn State's Olu Fashanu. Assuming the Bears either go quarterback or Marvin Harrison Jr. with the Panthers' pick, they could look to solidify the left tackle spot with their own first-round pick.
The Bears do need a center, but those are often found on Day 2 or Day 3 of the draft. If all else fails, they can find a veteran stopgap for a year.
Overreaction? Yes and no.
I say no because I agree with your premise. Teven Jenkins has been the Bears' best offensive lineman for two years and has dominated since returning to right guard after Nate Davis' injury in Week 6.
It's clear he's comfortable there, and Jenkins himself said he feels like he's in a groove next to Darnell Wright at the moment. Offensive line coach Chris Morgan and Jenkins have attributed that to the third-year lineman's comfort level in Year 2 on the inside and his continued growth as a professional.
This Bears regime has moved Jenkins all around, and he has handled it impressively well.
But when Davis comes back, I feel like Jenkins will flip back to left guard, and Davis will slot in at right guard.
Eberflus said he feels like Davis can play both sides, but Davis has only played right guard in the NFL. The Bears signed him to a three-year, $33-million contract to play right guard, so I don't think they'll ask him to move when he comes back.
The Bears will keep all their options open when Davis returns, but nothing about this staff's history with Jenkins says they will work the pieces around him. They see him as their most versatile lineman, and I would expect him to move back to left guard.
If we assume Eberflus stays (I do at the moment), conventional wisdom says changes will be made elsewhere, barring an unforeseen late-season surge.
Alan Williams is already gone, and the Bears' inconsistent offense falls solely at the feet of Getsy.
Dorsey was scapegoated Tuesday after the Bills fell to 5-5.
In his first 25 games as the Bills' OC, Dorsey's unit ranked first in success rate, second in EPA per play, second in offensive points per game, first in red zone EPA per play, and second in red zone success rate.
He'd be a tremendous hire and is someone the Bears should look at if they move on from Getsy but keep Eberflus.
I'm sure Dorsey will be in demand, both at the pro and college level, so the Bears will have to make a compelling offer to land him. Working with either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye is a good trump card should the Bears hold it at season's end.
Overreaction? More or less
It's Week 11 and we have reached the "Play General Manager In Madden" part of the discourse.
That tells you how well this season has gone for the Bears.
But these hypotheticals are fun when the team is 3-7, and another "transformational" offseason is on the horizon.
OK, first off, let's rule out Parsons. Not going to happen. Ever.
The caliber of player the Bears get in return for a trade down, assuming they get one at all, will be correlated to how far they are moving down.
The Giants aren't going to give up Dexter Lawrence to move up one spot. He's a 26-year-old elite defensive tackle who is thriving in that defense. If the move is one spot, it's probably just going to be a draft pick deal.
Minkah Fitzpatrick? The Steelers acquired him to anchor their defense for the next decade. He's 26 and spearheads one of the league's best units along with T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Don't think he's going anywhere.
Jeffery Simmons is an interesting possibility, but the Titans just drafted Will Levis and are unlikely to be in the market to move up for a quarterback.
If you're looking at teams who will be in the seven-10 range in the draft that will want to come up, it's the Rams, Falcons, Bucs, Titans, Packers, and Commanders.
I don't know if any of those teams are as desperate as the Panthers were last season. You can probably rule out a deal with the Packers, and the Commanders look like they have a guy in Sam Howell. The Rams' cupboard is empty of elite players in the middle of their prime.
That leaves us with the Bucs and Falcons.
Could A.J. Terrell be on the table? The Bears have some good young corners and could still figure out an extension with Jaylon Johnson. Tristan Wirfs is an immediate hang-up from Tampa Bay.
There's not a ton of obvious options. But we also didn't think DJ Moore would be on the table. We'll see what shakes after teams evaluate the quarterbacks come February.
There is a feeling around the league that Jim Harbaugh's time at Michigan is close to over. Whether or not his path out of Ann Arbor leads him to Chicago is impossible to say.
There will be other job openings. Would Harbaught rather come to Chicago or go to Los Angeles to coach Justin Herbert assuming Bradon Staley doesn't get another year? What about taking over the Raiders in Las Vegas?
He'll have options if he chooses to return to the NFL.
As far as McCarthy goes, the answer is no. Harbaugh recruiting McCarthy to Michigan will have no impact on how the Bears attack the draft if he is coach.
Harbaugh signed McCarthy at Michigan because that was his best option at quarterback in that cycle. He'll likewise go with the best option for himself and the Bears, which would either be Williams or Maye.
I remember when Pete Carroll took the Seahawks job, and everyone thought he would draft safety Taylor Mays because he played for Carroll at USC. Instead, Carroll took Texas safety Earl Thomas because he was the better player.
It would be the same situation.
McCarthy is QB3/4 in this class, and there's a big gap between 1/2 and 3/4. Bears won't pass that up because of a college connection.