Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Poles met the media on Tuesday to wrap up his first season calling the shots at Halas Hall. We’ve linked the full press conference below. In the meantime, here are some highlights…
Assessing Justin Fields’ 2022 Season
In case you missed it, the Bears’ plan for Justin Fields to remain QB1 going into the 2023 season. And I wanted to give runway to share some of Poles’ expanded thoughts on his quarterback.
“I thought Justin did a good job. We adapted. We tried to put him in a position to be successful. He showed the ability to be a playmaker and be impactful. … Does he have room to grow? He does. He has to get better as a passer. And I’m excited to see him take those steps as we move forward.”
This is exactly how I would’ve wanted Poles to address Fields in his end-of-year presser. First, Poles points out that the Bears adapted their game plans in an attempt to put Fields in a spot to succeed. That might seem minor, but it wasn’t something the previous regime was doing with Fields last year. Heck, I’m not even sure the Bears were doing a good enough job of it at the outset of this season. It was also notable that Poles was able to balance his praise of Fields while noting there was still room to grow. I’ve long found positive reinforcement as an effective way to teach. Sharing the good while also making it a point to mention the there is still stuff to work on should leave Fields feeling fine with his direction.
P.S. — These are the kinds of words one would use to talk up a player who’s sticking around:
“I’m excited for the direction he’s going. … We’re excited about his development and where he goes next. He showed ability to be impactful with his legs. There’s flashes with his arm. Now if we can put that together, I think we have something really good.”
Plans For a “Sound” Offseason
One thing I’ve noticed from the Bears’ social media department lately is their sharing of these quick and easily digestible soundbites. Good on ya, gang. I was going to cue this one up anyway, but AtChicagoBears did me a solid and gave me a layup:
“Obviously we have a lot more resources, so I’m excited. But we’ve gotta stay sound in free agency. I know everyone is talking about how much money we have and that we’re just going to go crazy. We’re going to be sound so we get the right players in here and we get good value. And attack the draft always keeping value in mind. That’s going to stay the same. That’s not going to change just because we have the No. 1 overall pick. So I know coach and I are excited, everyone should be excited about the direction we’re about to go.”
You’re excited. I’m excited. We’re all excited about Poles having oodles of opportunities to improve this roster.
However, I’m not totally buying that he won’t go “crazy” in free agency. Of course, “crazy” is a relative term. What one GM might deem as crazy is something another might be totally fine with doing. But this Bears team has numerous holes to fill and there are only so many draft picks they can use to fill ’em.
In other words, there is going to be a spending spree at some point. Poles pumping the brakes now is nothing more than a vehicle to tamper expectations. But good job, good effort on that front.
The David Montgomery Situation
Let me get this out of the way from the top. David Montgomery isn’t a perfect player. But he has his moments where he is efficient and effective on the field. And as a leader, few have taken that role and run with it as Montgomery did as a member of the Bears. But Montgomery is about to hit free agency. His future is uncertain. And it’s not as if Poles did much to clarify it today:
Of course, Poles loves Montgomery. How can you not? Montgomery is a tackle-breaking machine who plays with the type of gusto you’d want out of your lead running back. If your team is truly trying to build its culture from the ground up, you should want to have a player like Monty leading the charge. But with that being said, that Poles lays out that the two sides need to find common ground on an extension doesn’t give me much confidence that they can or will.
However, that Poles hasn’t shut the door completely makes me think there is a universe in which Montgomery sticks around for another year. But we won’t find out if we live in that universe until a later date.
- This is a mind-blowing stat:
- Youth was served in Chicago last season. I’ll be curious to see how many rookies get an opportunity to take a second-year leap.
- One of those rookies was left tackle Braxton Jones, who was getting the love from Poles:
- Jones enters the offseason as the Bears’ starting left tackle. And there is a path for him to take that would lead him to open training camp as LT1, too. Jones was one of this team’s most productive draft picks. I’ll be watching his development with great interest.
- Can I get two claps and a Ric Flair for Cole Kmet’s growth?
- It sounds like Kmet’s year-to-year growth caught Poles’ eye. Is an extension on the horizon?
- Hmm. It doesn’t sound like Poles has any regrets about trading what turned out to be the 32nd pick in the upcoming NFL Draft to the Steelers for receiver Chase Claypool:
- Hopefully, Claypool hears the vote of confidence and plays next year like his hair is on fire. I’m not sure there is anyone on the Bears not named Justin Fields with more on the line this upcoming season than Claypool.
- Watch Poles’ press conference (with Head Coach Matt Eberflus tagging along for the ride):