Dec 31, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) celebrates with offensive lineman Lucas Patrick (62) after running for a 9-yard touchdown in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Good morning, Chicago!
Last Monday was a victory Christmas. Today is a victory New Year’s Day.
The lights twinkle brighter and the champagne tastes sweeter. Yes, it’s nice when the Bears — and Carolina Panthers — give a boost to our holidays.
With that, let’s get into 10 quick thoughts after Sunday’s 37-17 win over the Falcons.
Welcome to 2024, Ryan Poles! As if your job this year wasn’t going to be hard enough, you’re flipping the calendar a day after your incumbent quarterback put on a performance at Soldier Field he said he’d remember forever. The “We Want Justin” chants that broke out through Justin Fields’ performance won’t make matters any easier, either. Or maybe they will? Current public sentiment mixed with a locker room that’s lined squarely behind QB1 might be the elements that swing Poles toward staying with the status quo.
And how do you break up what Justin Fields and DJ Moore have going right now? They’re easily the best 1-2 punch in town after another nine catches for 159 yards and a highlight reel touchdown. Moore is over 1,300 receiving yards on the season. For everyone who wants Caleb Williams, how much more would a rookie QB get out of Moore next season? Or the season after?
I do think the two paths for Poles seem pretty apparent now as the Bears have gone 7-5 after and 0-4 start to the season. You either 1) run everything back on the growth (and vibes) of Matt Eberflus and Justin Fields while making a decision on Luke Getsy or 2) you do a hard reset on all three positions. It’s hard for me to believe that anyone watches a win like Sunday’s and thinks they have the appetite for the acrobatics that will come with navigating those big changes. I also find it hard to believe you can extend Eberflus’ time for a playoff-less season while not doing the same to Fields.
Then again, there isn’t a coach on the market right now that represents a potential upgrade over Eberflus like the quarterbacks in the draft do to Fields.
Arizona’s win over Philadelphia may go down as this year’s Houston over Indy decision. The victory pushes the quarterback-needy Commanders and Patriots into the second and third draft positions and creates a mini-market that Poles can profit from while still nabbing Marvin Harrison Jr. at No. 3.
For all the good vibes we got out of Sunday, the 2023 season still represents an opportunity lost. How often did you think about what the day would’ve been like had the Bears just been able to close out the Broncos, Lions, Browns or some combination of all three? We can be happy with the growth the team has shown since Week 1, but still upset they frittered away a chance at the playoffs. Windows in the NFL are short and the league’s parity means that rebuilds aren’t as slow and deliberate as other leagues.