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Why not us?: Justin Fields and the 2023 Chicago Bears are ready to take the next step

Greg Braggs Jr Avatar
September 8, 2023

We’re just a few days away from a Week 1 showdown on the lakefront between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. It’s the NFL’s oldest rivalry. The last time these 2 teams met up at the back end of the 2022 season, the Packers officially passed the Bears with the most wins for any franchise in NFL History, after the Bears had held that record for 101 years. The records now sit at 790 wins for Green Bay and 786 wins for the Chicago Bears. The pendulum swung drastically in the Packers’ favor over the last 30 years after Green Bay hit the QB lottery on back-to-back tickets with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers finished his record against the Bears in a Packers uniform with a 24-5 record.

But before that, long before I was around, it was the Bears who dominated this rivalry.

Will those days ever return?

That’s what I want to talk to you about while we look towards gameday.

Why not us?

This will be the first game in my football lifetime, since I was a little 6 year old kid pretending to “Be like Mike’ in my driveway, that I can realistically say that the Chicago Bears will have the better quarterback heading into a matchup against Green Bay. We even had one of the most hated Packers rival podcasters, Peter Bukowski of Locked on Packers, on our show this summer and he even admitted as much!

Still, there is an extremely cautious wait-and-see vibe from the fanbase in Chicago to believe that our time has come. Too many times this city been burned by false hope of a Bears offense that’s ready to move into the 21st century. Jay Cutler and Mitch Trubisky brought a lot of hopes and dreams early in their tenures as QB1 with some playoff appearances, but nothing that moved into the reality of sustained success, for a bevy of reasons. Now Justin Fields has to carry the burden of a failed history of quarterbacks and offenses in Chicago. Will he be the one to break the curse?

Again, why not?

This city has seen its share of bad luck and curses. The Chicago Cubs finally ended a 108-year World Series drought in 2016. Many fans that lived a full life rooting for a team only to go to their grave never seeing their favorite team win a World Series championship. Talk about loyalty. Don’t ever question what city has the greatest fans. It’s Chicago. Many times there were players and teams on the North Side that brought a lot of hope, only to end in massive disappointment. They finally got over the hump with a Why Not Us attitude championed by Joe Maddon.

Then there’s the line of bad luck the Bulls have had since Michael Jordan hit his final game-winning shot in the NBA Finals vs the Utah Jazz. It’s almost like the city had to sacrifice any future success to witness the greatest player to play any sport. But for a fleeting moment, the Bulls hit some lottery luck by winning the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft with a 1.7 percent chance of getting that pick. They turned that pick into a young soft spoken kid, who grew up on South Side of Chicago, dripping with athleticism and competitiveness in Derrick Rose. Derrick did things this city had never seen since the MJ days, brought hope back to a fanbase, and then he started an opening season presser by saying “Why not? Why can’t I be the MVP of the league?” That statement was dismissed by most at the time as a young player with confidence but not a realistic goal. But he backed it up with his play on the court, becoming the youngest MVP in NBA History. And to this day, despite his bad luck with injury, is still a legend in many eyes of Chicago Sports fans. All because he said, Why not?

The Bears ran into some luck of their own to end last season. In the final week of the season, against all odds, the Houston Texans, led by former Bears head coach Lovie Smith, pulled out a miraculous win over the Indianapolis Colts to gift-wrap Chicago the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. It was one of those all time moments in CHGO Sports studio history. We kinda freaked out a bit.

The value of the #1 pick is something that can set a franchise up for years to come. Very rarely, it seems, does Chicago get good luck like that. It was the first sign that the tides were turning.

The Bears proceeded to make an unprecedented hire outside the organization for a well respected, resume loaded, new President of the Chicago Bears in Kevin Warren. That may not move the needle for some Bears fans but it was again another sign of the winds of change in Chicago. A fresh voice and perspective in a front office that was desperate for both. In a very well done, extensive interview by Dan Pompei of the Athletic, Kevin Warren then talking about his aspirations on and off the field as the President of the Chicago Bears, he said, “I want to build the most advanced, most progressive project ever on the planet. And I want to win Super Bowl trophies. Why not us? You know, why not?”

General Manager, Ryan Poles, attacked NFL Free Agency by signing the top linebacker available in Tremaine Edmunds from the Buffalo Bills, a leader in that locker room. He now falls in line with an organization that has a storied history of great linebackers from Butkus, to Urlacher, to Singletary, to Marshall to Briggs. The Bears also brought in another top free agent linebacker, TJ Edwards, to fill out the linebacking trio with surprise standout of last year, Jack Sanborn, to make one of the most formidable linebacking cores on paper in the NFL. Normally, that would’ve been the top story for Bears fans to lean on heading into training camp. But from the luck of that 1st pick gift, they flipped that in a trade for a star wide receiver in DJ Moore from the Carolina Panthers. A guy who has the fifth most receiving yards in NFL History before the age of 26. Trailing only Randy Moss, Mike Evans, Larry Fitzgerald, and DeAndre Hopkins. Pretty good company. Speaking of company, the wide receivers core of DJ Moore, Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool is one that only four teams in the entire NFL can say it has three wide receivers that have had 850+ yards or more in a single season.

When have the Bears ever had firepower like this on the outside?

The Bears also added veteran defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to a defensive line that sorely needed a pass rush. He is the fifth player in NFL History to record 8+ sacks in his first seven seasons.

Pretty good company. Add that with an intriguing draft by Ryan Poles and that would normally be all the fuel Bears fans would need to be optimistic heading into a season.

But it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like Bears fans are afraid of their own shadow with a hesitancy to believe that the tides are turning for this team. And it all circles around the quarterback Justin Fields. A lightning rod for conversation with Bears fans and media alike, locally and nationally. No one can seem to define whether Justin Fields is or isn’t the guy to end the quarterback curse in Chicago. Despite the fact Fields did things last year never seen before by any quarterback in NFL history. The focus isn’t about what he is, it’s about what he needs to be. Can he become a pocket passer? Can he be the first quarterback in franchise history to throw for 4,000 yards or 30 touchdown passes? Can he lead the Bears to their first Super Bowl since 1985? Why not? When asked on the “All Things Covered” podcast earlier this offseason if he will be the first Bears quarterback to reach 4,000 yards, Fields said, “I will. I plan on doing it this year.” Very similar to the day Derrick Rose told the media his goals for what ended up being an MVP season.

So again, I ask you, why not?

Justin Fields is a quarterback we’ve never seen before in this city. Yet, we are so hyper focused on what he needs to be, that I think we are all losing sight of what he already is. He is the most dangerous weapon the Bears have had since Devin Hester.

That’s not hyperbole. He is the guy who defensive coordinators lose sleep over at night when they are game-planning to play the Chicago Bears. When have we ever been able to say that in this city about a quarterback?

The answer is never. Normally all Chicago fans would embrace that and be all in. But the conversation about what he isn’t has been beaten to death so bad that I think fans are starting to question what they should already know.

Who cares if he doesn’t do it in a way that Colin Cowherd prefers?Who cares about who doubts him. Trust what you’re seeing. Look around the NFL. Look no further than Jalen Hurts, the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. Another guy who was widely doubted before the start of last year. Another dual-threat quarterback who was given weapons around him to elevate his play to the next level. Did you watch the Eagles and Bears play in December last year? Watch that game back and ask yourself who was the better quarterback that day.

Fields and the Bears played out the rest of the season with an eye toward the offseason while Jalen Hurts went on to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl and break records as a dual threat quarterback in the regular season, the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Nearly winning an MVP and robbed of an opportunity on the final drive to win a Super Bowl over the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. That’s the way the league is going, whether some fans want to accept that or not. Fields has very similar traits to Jalen Hurts, if not better. Sorry if you’re too afraid to say that.

But I’m not.

As far as what Justin Fields needs to do better. What is the appropriate next step for QB1 to take? If you were able to attend training camp this summer or watch the limited snaps Fields took in preseason games, you saw a quarterback who finally has weapons to help elevate his game. It was a daily routine with the connection of Fields to DJ Moore. A true #1 WR who is going to help his quarterback out and make others around him better. They consistently connected in the short to intermediate routes at practice in 7 on 7s and 11 on 11s. Something that was missing from the offense last season. Crazy what happens when you get a WR with that skillset. Imagine that.

The forgotten WR to this point has been Chase Claypool, who missed the rest of the preseason after having a very good first 10 days of practice, showcasing traits you can’t teach with size combined with athleticism. While it’s been awhile since we’ve seen him, I’m going to trust the connection I saw between Fields and Claypool early on. I think you will see a big step taken in the short/intermediate passing game and it will be a work in progress when it comes to downfield throws such as the back shoulder throws that Fields missed on in the third and final preseason game. At the end of the day, the offense we saw at camp was never a fair representation of what we will see in the regular season because you don’t get the electrifying running and escapability that Justin Fields is capable of.

Fields will give opportunities to his WRs that very few others can because of his electrifying playmaking ability. Be prepared for Fields to run for over 1,000 yards again, if healthy. They’ll move the chains and we’ll have to see if the added weapons equal more touchdowns than field goals. I’m gonna guess it does.

Stop hedging, Bears fans. Push your chips all in on this game, this season, this team, this new front office and this quarterback. I’ve always said we have too many experts and not enough fans. Come find me on Meatball Island!

Justin Fields is going to take the next step. The Bears are going to be a much better team than last year. And the Bears are going to beat the Green Bay Packers this Sunday. Say it with your chest! If you have a neighbor who is a Green Bay fan, knock on his or her door and tell them their time is done! Aaron Rodgers is no longer on the Packers. The big bad wolf is gone. Don’t be scared anymore! Bears fans need to give Jordan Love hell in his first game in the NFL’s oldest rivalry. Take all those years of torment out on him, not Fields! If you’re in the stands that day, get your asses out of your seats and GET LOUD!! This is our turn. This is our house! Have some fun this Sunday and go FULL MEATBALL!!!

If you don’t want to listen to me, listen to DT Justin Jones who said this on Thursday at Halas Hall about the Bears/Packers rivalry: ” We’re about to be on the other side of that now. We’re going to be the ones giving the beat down. We’re not getting beat by them anymore, it’s going to be us for now on. It starts Sunday.”

So, I ask you again……WHY NOT US!!

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