Bears overreactions: Should Barkley be top offseason target?


Another Sunday brought another loss for the Bears, but the return of Justin Fields against the Green Bay Packers again showed the future could be bright in Chicago.

Fields had his best game as a passer in the 28-19 loss to Green Bay. He showed excellent pocket poise, made tight-window throws, tossed 50-50 balls, found receivers on the second level, and continued to make plays with his legs.

All that happened, and the "draft position" cheerleaders saw the Bears hang at No. 2 with five weeks remaining.

With the Bears having lost six in a row and nine of 10, the focus has pretty much shifted to a critical offseason for general manager Ryan Poles. What should the focus be? Who are the big fish the Bears should target?

Let's dig into the overreactions mailbag after Week 13:

Overreaction? No, but that's easier said than done. 

I agree that finding Fields a true No. 1 receiver is near the top of the list this offseason. But that might be easier said than done.

Even if they trade down in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Bears should address their defensive line first. But if they do move back and miss out on Jalen Carter, Will Anderson, Myles Murphy, and Bryan Bresee, there's no Justin Jefferson or Ja'Marr Chase-type receiver at the top of this class.

I really like USC's Jordan Addison, but he has size concerns. TCU's Quentin Johnston is a great deep ball guy but isn't well-rounded enough at the moment to be a No. 1.

The free-agent market at wide receiver doesn't have any No. 1s, which is part of the reason the Bears traded for Chase Claypool.

Could there be some surprise where a guy like Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins, or D.J. Moore asks to be traded? It's possible. But right now, the true WR1 options are limited for the Bears. It's best to address the offensive and defensive lines and then maybe add a receiver on Day 2 of the draft who can slot in behind Darnell Mooney and Claypool.

Overreaction? Yes. 

I've written about this and talked with David Kaplan and Ken Davis about it on Unfiltered.

In a vacuum, adding Barkley to the Fields-led rushing attack would be electric. Imagine being an end tasked with picking between Fields or Barkley on a read. Good luck.

RELATED: How Bears plan to tinker with Fields-led run game

But signing Barkley would be a move for a team ready to win now. I feel the same way about trying to trade for DeForest Buckner. These are great players who can help a team go from fringe contender to legit title threat.

The Bears have too many holes on their roster to spend a large chunk of their money on an expensive running back.

If Barkley seeks a reasonable deal because the big-money offer isn't out there, you could talk me into it. But if he's looking for $16 million or more a season, the Bears can better use that money elsewhere.

Overreaction? Yes ... but maybe not. 

Aaron Rodgers has owned the Bears for so long it feels foolish to have a funeral for him. I've had him on #WashedWatch all season, but I think it's fair to assume the broken thumb and new crop of wide receivers are partly to blame for his poor play.

Rodgers has looked like a guy on his way out, but he has 50 million reasons to return to play in 2023.

All that being said, Fields gives the Bears a chance to flip the script in the rivalry for the next decade. He's a rare talent, the type the Bears haven't had a quarterback in, well, ever.

But in order for the "Bears era" to truly begin, general manager Ryan Poles has to build the right team around his young quarterback.

The Bears will have over $100 million and a high draft pick to start that process this offseason.

Sunday's loss to the Packers was another example of Fields elevating the Bears to compete with a team on a different talent plane. If he's given the proper support, the tide in the rivalry could very well flip.

Overreaction? Yes, but hold that thought.

We spent weeks praising Getsy for the changes he made to the Bears' offense during the mini-bye week. He deserved those flowers. He also deserved criticism for not implementing the quarterback-designed runs, pocket rolls, and changed launch points before Week 7.

We always talk about how young Fields is in his NFL career. We should speak of Getsy the same way. He has only been an NFL play-caller for 13 games. He's drawn up some great play designs, and the overall flow and direction of the Bears' offense make sense. He calls Play A, so he can later call Play B and Play C.

That's all good.

But Getsy has had some poor moments this season.

The latest example came after Fields hit N'Keal Harry for 49 yards in the fourth quarter against the Packers. The Bears were leading by two and were knocking on the doorstep after Fields' long strike to Harry.

But after a Fields pass to David Montgomery lost 2 yards on first down, Getsy called back-to-back runs, and the Bears settled for a field goal.

We'd all like to see him put the ball in Fields' hands, especially with the passing game the way it was.

I expect Getsy to evolve and improve like everyone else, but it will be a situation worth monitoring next year.

Overreaction? Yes. 

Josh Blackwell and Jaylon Jones played well above expectations against the Packers. They deserve all the credit for being ready and not being liabilities against Rodgers.

But Gordon turned a corner around the mini-bye week and has been solid for the Bears over the last month before suffering a concussion in the loss to the Falcons.

The rookie's instincts and rare body movement skills have been on display of late as he's settled into life as a slot corner in the NFL.

Gordon still gives up his share of catches, but everyone does at this level. His tackling has improved during the season, and I think the coverage numbers will continue to improve once he returns.

I don't know if Gordon will ever be a top slot corner in the NFL, but he's got a long career ahead of him as a good cornerback. Give it time.

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