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Chicago Bears: When Will They Be Done Rebuilding?

By: Erin Hughes

Edited By: Kylie Augis

The “Monsters of the Midway” as they were once known looked a little bit more like baby bear cubs during the 2022-23 season. By posting a 3-14 record in their 17 games, the Chicago Bears were the worst team in the NFL last year.. The only thing helping fans get through the misery of the year was the hope for an early draft pick; by securing the #1 pick in the draft, some fans’ excitement grew with the belief that the Bears would trade the pick for a draft haul to help them rebuild. Some of that optimism came crashing down when fans learned the Bears traded with the Carolina Panthers all the way down to the 10th spot in the 2023 draft. In addition to exchanging first round picks in this year’s draft, the Bears also acquired a 2nd rounder in ‘23, a 1st round pick in ‘24, a 2nd round pick in ‘25 and wide receiver DJ Moore. It was the acquisition of Moore that was the key to understanding the Bears’ thinking.

Moore’s entrance to the team did provide a small glimmer of hope for Bears fans. The 24th pick in the 2018 draft, Moore had 63 receptions for 888 yards with seven touchdowns in his fifth season in Carolina. He has steadily improved despite playing with sub-par quarterbacks, and Bears General Manager Ryan Poles along with Head Coach Matt Ebebrflus hope Moore and QB1 Justin Fields will improve a less-than-great Bears offense.

Courtesy of Harry How / Getty Images

The run game was not the Bears’ biggest problem in 2022. Justin Fields has been a threatening two way quarterback since he arrived at Ohio State and that has carried over to the league; he posted over 1,110 rushing yards on 160 carries, almost 300 more yards than his primary running back, David Montgomery, who will play for the Detroit Lions in 2023. Fields’ receiving core was more suspect, however. The pairing of DJ Moore with top Bears wideout Darnell Mooney and a trio of Notre Dame receivers in Cole Kmet, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Chase Claypool (a midseason addition) improves the Bears wide receiver room dramatically and makes obvious Poles’ efforts to surround Fields with offensive weapons. Even more help for Fields came through the draft.

Chicago’s biggest problem in ‘22-23 was their offensive line. The pocket collapsed often, leaving Fields scrambling most of the time and not often able to make a play with his arm. The biggest offseason focal point for the Bears was going to be their offensive line, so it made sense when they drafted Tennessee offensive tackle, Darnell Wright, 10th overall in the 2023 draft. NFL Draft Strategy Editor, Dan Parr, said going into the 2023 draft that the Bears front office really needed to focus on providing their quarterback with better protection if they want to improve in the upcoming season and hopefully start turning Fields into the franchise QB he’s shown flashes of being. With the addition of 4th rounders Roschon Johnson, a running back from Texas, and wide receiver Tyler Scott from Cincinnati, the Bears’ rebuilding plan around Fields seems well on its way.

Courtesy of Soldier Field Photographers

This Windy City team is also taking rebuilding a bit more literally, Soldier Field has been the primary home of the Bears since 1971, when the team moved from Wrigley Field. The facility has been through its share of wear and tear over the years, also holding the league “title” for lowest capacity at 61,500. Over the past few years, the McCaskey Family, longtime owners of the franchise, have been debating moving the team out of Soldier Field and into a new building somewhere further away from the city. For many months, it seemed that the team was going to be moving into a $5 billion new stadium that would be built in the Village of Arlington Heights, about 30 miles north of Soldier Field. However, recent news within the past week has come out that the Bears are now considering abandoning the Arlington Heights plan and will hear a proposal from Naperville, a city about 35 miles west of Soldier Field.

Chicago has a multitude of questions surrounding them going into the 2023 season. Will Justin Fields turn into a franchise QB? Will the offensive line show improvements? Will the team even stay in Chicago? It’s safe to say owner George McCaskey, GM Ryan Poles, and head coach Matt Eberflus are going to have to answer these questions at some point or they will face the music.

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