Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles has come under fire this offseason for failing to surround second-year quarterback Justin Fields with the necessary tools he needs for success. Whether it was his lack of investment in the offensive line or wide receivers, speculation about his belief in Fields ran wild.
It’s pretty clear at this point that Fields is, in fact, Poles’ guy. The 2021 first-round pick has taken hold of a leadership role in training camp and, by all indications, is thriving. But Fields’ success in summer practices doesn’t mean Poles’ offseason decisions should be forgotten. He didn’t do much to level up the talent around Fields. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have Chicago’s long-term best interest in mind or that the moves he did make weren’t calculated.
“One of the things that Poles learned so well early on in Kansas City is that there are no shortcuts to be great,” NBC Sports’ Peter King said via the Under Center Podcast. “I think that’s something he’s brought to the Bears. When I say ‘there are no shortcuts to be great,’ー look he obviously chafes at calling this a rebuilding year, but I don’t care what you call it, the Bears aren’t gonna win much this year. At least, I don’t think… Whatever it is, this is not the final iteration of the Matt Eberflus – Ryan Poles team.”
It would’ve been easy for Poles to open the Bears’ checkbook and spend big money on a wide receiver like Christian Kirk this offseason. But would that have been what’s best for Chicago? Overpaying for a mid-level receiver whose ceiling is lower than a guy like Darnell Mooney, who’s setting up for a big payday of his own next offseason?
And let’s not forget that while Poles may not have added players the media wanted at wide receiver and offensive line, he did sign Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, Tajae Sharpe, Dante Pettis and David Moore in free agency. He drafted Velus Jones Jr. in the third round. He traded for former first-round pick N’Keal Harry. Poles used four day-three draft picks on offensive linemen, one of which may end up being the starting left tackle. He signed Lucas Patrick from the Green Bay Packers to start at center. He added veterans Riley Reiff and Michael Schofield on the eve of training camp.
Headliners? No. Superstars? Obviously, not. But that’s a lot of turnover at the positions most directly tied to Justin Fields’ success. And if a handful of them turn into competent starters, it’ll be a job well done in Ryan Poles’ first offseason on the job.
As King said, Poles learned there are no shortcuts to success. And in the first of what will hopefully be many years as the Chicago Bears general manager, he’s laying a strong foundation that’s dependent on success in the NFL Draft and hand-picked veteran free agents who can fill in the gaps.