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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Patrick Finley

Breaking down Bears’ biggest questions

Head coach Matt Eberflus went 3-14 in his first season. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

The Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley analyzes the Bears at the end of their 3-14 season:

Rank the Bears’ biggest offseason needs.

In order: dominant edge rusher; disruptive “three-technique” defensive tackle; play-making weak-side linebacker; a reliable wide receiver and the best two starting offensive linemen they can find.

Their needs exceed even that list, though. There are maybe three position groups where they seem set with starters: quarterback, tight end and safety.

What specifically would you do with the No. 1 overall pick?

Trade it to the Colts for No. 4, their second-rounder this year and a 2024 first-rounder. (Also, I’d ask if the Colts want to send any veteran defenders over in the trade). Then I’d draft who’s left between Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson and Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. In terms of landing a high pick next year, there’s no team I’d rather bet against, institutionally, than the Colts. That 2024 pick gives the Bears an insurance policy, too — if Fields struggles in 2023, they’d have the ability to draft a quarterback.

How would you assess Justin Fields’ season?

His runs were the most exciting thing I’ve covered on this beat in 10 seasons. For the Bears to win consistently, the pass game must improve.

Would you consider drafting a QB?

I’d consider everything. The most likely result, though, is drafting a Round 4-or-later backup who has a skillset that’s similar enough to Fields to run the same plays.

The Bears’ hiring of Kevin Warren as CEO/president signifies ...

That they’re willing to do something different — a great idea after they won three playoff games in Ted Phillips’ 24 years.

What grade would you give Matt Eberflus?

C-. Objectively, he just had the worst season in Bears history, becoming their first coach to lose 10 straight and to finish with 14 losses. Over the last month, his defense gave up the most points in the NFL.  Many of the Bears’ struggles were by design. Still, the Bears had rookies play over 1,000 more snaps than the NFL’s next-closest team, but few young players emerged as sure-fire keepers.

Which of GM Ryan Poles’ decisions thus far will look the best?

Drafting safety Jaquan Brisker in Round 2. I quibble with whom he could have drafted instead (the Steelers took George Pickens four picks later) but I believe Brisker, despite run-support struggles toward the end of the season, will be a multi-time Pro Bowl player.

Which decision will Poles regret most?

Trading Roquan Smith doesn’t get the same criticism as Poles dealing for Chase Claypool a day later. Since the trade, though, the Ravens have given up 132 points — just two short of the league-leading 49ers. The Ravens paid Smith what the Bears wouldn’t, but Poles shouldn’t have been in the business of trading a 25-year-old standout when he could have given him the franchise tag twice.

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