NFL News

Former NFL GM Thomas Dimitroff evaluates the Bears' offseason, what they should do with No. 1 pick

Former NFL GM Thomas Dimitroff talked with NBC Sports Chicago at Radio Row ahead of the Super Bowl

NBC Universal, Inc.

Since the Ryan Poles/Matt Eberflus era began in Chicago, the Bears have encountered several tough, puzzling items to scratch off the agenda. To help dissect the good from the bad and the reasons for making certain decisions, former NFL general manager Thomas Dimitroff sat down with NBC Sports Chicago on Radio Row ahead of the Super Bowl.

Poles' most significant move to date was trading the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL draft to the Carolina Panthers for a haul of draft picks and wide receiver DJ Moore. That set the tone for his tenure as general manager, showing faith in Justin Fields and collecting future assets to help continue to develop the Bears.

But, in that process, they passed on the draft's top quarterbacks. C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 pick in that draft. He had a heckuva season, placing himself firmly in the conversation amongst the league's best with the Houston Texans.

How can Bears fans make sense of Poles passing on those quarterbacks?

"If you're a GM, you hopefully have your staff telling you what's coming next year," Dimitroff told NBC Sports Chicago. "If you're a proper GM, I say this respectfully, you have your staff looking at one, two and possibly even three years ahead, especially at that position [quarterback]. What is out there? What's going to be coming around the bend as far as potential quarterbacks? There's no doubt in my mind that he knew that this was a really good class [2024 NFL draft class]. And I think that that makes it a lot easier to pass on a C.J. Stroud situation like that."

Coming out of the 2023 NFL draft without Stroud was telling. It's a difficult pill for Bears fans to swallow. But it shows the faith the Bears placed in Fields before going into the 2023 season. It also could indicate, as Dimitroff said, that the Bears had an eye on the future draft classes that include Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, etc.

But after a shaky, nebulous season, Fields is back in the same spot he was in going into 2023. He has yet to definitively prove he's the future quarterback for the Bears. And now, the Bears must figure out if they should continue forward with him or draft a new signal caller.

What would Dimitroff do if he was in Poles' shoes?

"I think Fields, and I've always said this, I think he has very good ability," Dimitroff said. "I think he needs to be in the right situation where he'll thrive. Maybe a new start would be very beneficial for him as well. ... You need to be honest with yourself and say, what's the opportunity out there? Are there five, six, or seven interested teams? And I think you truly do look at that trade and know that he's going to go. You have to be comfortable to know that he's going to go and he may thrive somewhere."

For Dimitroff, letting Fields go in the trade market and watching him thrive elsewhere doesn't mean they made the wrong decision. But Williams, or whoever the Bears would hypothetically replace for Fields, needs to be a superstar to justify that decision.

In part of who makes that decision, the Bears kicked off the offseason with some interesting personnel decisions. They fired Luke Getsy and his offensive staff, but retained head coach Matt Eberflus, despite posting a 7-10 season and enduring all sorts of self-created mishaps i.e. Alan Williams resigning, firing David Walker, failing to mold Chase Claypool.

The Bears, or more specifically, Ryan Poles, had the option to start with a fresh slate. He could've wiped the coaching staff clean, brought in a whole new staff to call his own and drafted a quarterback to pair with that staff. Instead, he rode with the coach who led the Bears through the mud and brought them back out clean by the end of the season.

"I would say it was the right decision to keep him," Dimitroff said. "I do believe that. I'm not one that just believes you just, you know, flippantly move. There was a lot going on there. You guys knew that obviously, everything that was going on became a distraction. And it was complicated. And as a GM and a head coach, you go through all that and you continue to stick together."

To Dimitroff's point, Poles and Eberflus' relationship certainly strengthened after getting another year of teamwork under their belts. Plus, the trials and tribulations they went through together not only proved to them they could mitigate situations that arise, but they can problem solve them together efficiently.

Chemistry and synergy in that department are crucial. While splitting it up and starting over sounds enticing, you lose time and relationship-building in that decision. Now, Poles and Eberflus are on the same page moving forward. No questions about it, they're in this thing together.

That brings us to the next point. If Poles, Eberflus and the Bears decide to draft Williams, how should they handle the locker room? There's no question Fields has the undivided support from the locker room. The players want Fields to be their quarterback.

How can the front office and coaching staff persuade the team they made the right decision to draft Williams, Drake Maye, or whoever to be their next quarterback?

"You need to give the guys the voice that they need to have. Talk about it," Dimitroff said. "But then you need to make it very clear you're making the decision, I would say, or Ryan's making the decision as the GM. That is vital.

"I love some of those strong players and they are important input people, but you get their input and you tell them, 'However, I am the GM and I am the head coach and this is what we are doing.' You start getting into a spot where all the players are starting to dictate where you're going.

"And if you're a team builder and a leader of an organization and you're relying on your players to start dictating in the media that you're going to do this or they're going to walk out, that's a complicated spot to be in. You need to set the tone early."

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us