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LAKE FOREST — The 2023 Chicago Bears reported to Halas Hall for the start of training camp on Tuesday.
The team held several press conferences, starting with general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus. Justin Fields and DJ Moore went next. Tremaine Edmunds and Eddie Jackson closed out the day.
Here are six takeaways from Tuesday’s press conferences.
Ryan Poles is sticking to the plan
Like most people, having patience can be difficult. This is especially true when you’re a general manager of a multibillion-dollar NFL franchise.
Ryan Poles is no different. In his first season, his team won three games and ended with the worst record in the NFL. But Poles never allowed panic or desperation to fuel the reason for his moves. One main reason is that he knew he and his team had a plan in place and weren’t willing to deviate from that despite the obstacles.
“Yeah, I think that’s sticking to the plan,” Poles said. “When you look at the big picture, building through the draft, supplementing through free agency, I think making sure that your decisions that you’re making are sound for where we are right now and not putting us in a situation where it damages some of the work that we’ve done and the path that we’ve kind of set up for ourselves moving forward, so really managing those two and it is difficult sometimes. You want everything right now. Trust me. Like you really do. But you got to make sure that you’re making sound decisions so that you can stay healthy and stay in a position to sustain success over a long period of time.”
Many fans want Poles to go out and sign an edge rusher, but he will only do so if the price is right and if the move aligns with sustained success.
That being said, Poles mentioned if he finds an edge rusher that he believes can improve the team, he is “going to stay after them and stay engaged.”
Matt Eberflus looking for ‘Elite Competitors’
This 2023 Bears roster looks a lot different from the one Eberflus coached throughout the 2022 season.
After another round of free agents and another draft class, the Bears have added some much-needed talent. With that, Eberflus is on a quest to identify a particular group of players.
“And then really the look for us as the coaches is that, who are our elite competitors?” Eberflus said. “We want guys to compete at an elite level. That’s gonna be evident once we get the pads on. Of course we have our ramp up period, but we want to make sure that that is going to be a big focus for us because that’s how you win football games. You do that day-in and day-out and we’re excited about being able to enhance those guys.”
Eberflus later named Fields and Edmunds as two of the elite competitors on the team and mentioned there were several other players. Unlike last year, this current Bears roster has a mix of talent from all different backgrounds that will help elevate the overall play on the team.
Now, it’s up to the Bears’ staff to coach up the talent and identify the rest of the elite competitors.
Fields feeling comfortable
It can’t be understated how important it’s for Fields to be entering Year 3 in the same offense he played in last season.
With offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko and the rest of the offensive coaching staff in place, for the first time in three years, Fields didn’t have any type of turnover.
Fields can feel the consistency and the impact it has made for him as he prepares for his third training camp.
“I think anytime you are in the same offense two consecutive years, it does make it easier and you’re not having to learn a new offense, new protections, new language within an offense,” Fields said. “So, this offseason has definitely been easier for me in terms of, you know, just diving deeper into the playbook and just a better understanding of it. So, I’ve definitely felt way more comfortable this offseason and OTAs than I have been the past two for sure.”
Fields mentioned in an interview with CBS Sports that he will throw for 4,000 yards and plans on doing that this season. Being in Getsy’s offense for a second year in a row and having playmakers like DJ Moore definitely help to make that goal more realistic.
Fields was asked about the 4,000 yards passing on Tuesday with Moore sitting alongside him.
“You know of course a Bears quarterback hasn’t done it yet,” Fields said. “That would be cool. With the help of this guy, hopefully I can get there so yeah.”
DJ Moore continues to learn
When the Bears acquired Moore in a trade with Carolina, it was done in mind to help Fields develop. Moore gives the Bears’ offense a true No. 1 threat and a reliable target in the passing game.
A lot of the talk surrounding Moore has been how he can help Chicago’s offense reach new heights, and rightfully so. But on Tuesday, Moore was asked how the offense under offensive coordinator Luke Getsy can help him?
“Coming from different backgrounds, offenses, this offense is pretty unique,” Moore said. “A lot of different tags and terms, this and that, that I learned coming in. It’s helped me grow more than I already was. It’s just taking me to the next level to understand the main concepts and different terminology behind it.”
While Moore was with the Panthers, he eclipsed over 1,000 yards receiving in three of his five seasons. If Getsy’s offense can help him grow and become an even more productive player than what he has already proven, this could be an entertaining season for the Bears offense.
But like Moore mentioned there is a lot to learn, and the sooner Moore can get a good grasp of the offense, the sooner the chemistry will continue to build with Fields. But even just a couple months in to learning the offense, the results have already begun to show on the field.
Eddie Jackson raising the standard
Eddie Jackson is tired of losing.
Since Jackson was drafted in 2017, the Bears have a 42-56 record, have made the playoffs twice and won the NFC North title once. Jackson hasn’t experienced much team success outside of the 2018 season.
For the seven-year pro, he is ready to change the narrative surrounding this Bears organization.
“For me personally man, it’s Year 7,” Jackson said. “Just going to continue to get better. Coming off the injury last year, it sucks. But like I said, we have a lot of new pieces, a lot of new faces. So I just want to turn this thing around. That’s the main goal. Year in, year out. New faces, new everything. I’m tired of the same old standard that the Bears have. Having the same everything, the same results in and out every year. We want to make it to the playoffs and eventually make it to the Super Bowl.”
To eventually achieve those goals, it will take a team effort and individuals to take their games to another level. Jackson shared the expectations he has for himself going into the 2023 season with a tweet on July 19.
The veteran safety said he tweeted that to “speak it into existence.” And in case he needed any more motivation, he reflects on how frustrating those losing seasons were and how they made him feel.
Luckily, there is a new energy in the building at Halas Hall — with all the young talent and free agents. Jackson definitely felt the resurgence when the Bears signed Edmunds.
When you get a player like that, it’s kind of a reminder of when we got (Khalil) Mack,” Jackson said. “Khalil’s like, all right, we’ve gotta show him there’s some dogs in here. He ain’t here by himself. He’s got guys that’s ready to go to war with him. He’s got guys that’s going to go in day-in and day-out, work. We ain’t gonna complain. We gonna buy in. When you see a guy like that, he says, OK, he sees what types of dogs this is, he sees he’s got guys he gonna go to war with. It just makes all us buy in. This thing, it makes it better. It makes it greater for us to go work and really accomplish something.”
Tremaine Edmunds ready to lead
Tremaine Edmunds may be only five months into his Bears career but the position he is in is nothing new to him.
As the middle linebacker of Alan Williams’ defense, Edmunds will be looked at by his fellow teammates as a leader — a role he knows all too well.
“Nah, that’s not new. I’m very comfortable in it,” Edmunds said. “I was in that leadership role in Buffalo and nothing has changed here. I take full responsibility and that’s my character. I’m a natural-born leader and I know that I’m gonna make guys around me better just because of what I’m gonna put on the field each and every day. Obviously being a leader, when you say one thing, just know you’ve got a lot of fingers pointed back at you. We have a lot of good leaders in the room and I’m excited to get to work with them. Now, officially training camp — obviously we already had our time in OTAs in the spring, but now we’re getting closer to the season. It’s nothing new to me.”
Edmunds came from a winning team in Buffalo and experienced what it takes to become a team that was accustomed to playing playoff football. He plans to hold himself accountability, especially being in a leadership position. Exactly what is needed for a Bears team trying to climb out of the basement of the NFC North.
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