Ryan Poles

What the Chicago Bears can learn from the Chiefs, Eagles as they enter critical offseason

The NFL is a copycat league. Teams that win, and win consistently, generally lay the blueprint for present-day success. For a club amid a massive rebuild like the Chicago Bears, taking notice of what’s made the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles so successful is a worthwhile endeavor.

The Bears can go from last place in the NFC North in 2022 to a competitive, if not a playoff-worthy team, in 2023. They’re loaded with offseason assets in free agency and the 2023 NFL draft to level up the talent on the roster around quarterback Justin Fields and make a legitimate push for the NFC North next season.

General manager Ryan Poles must be careful not to become reckless in his second year on the job. It’s his first offseason that will focus on roster building; last year was more about deconstructing the team his predecessor left him.

Here are a few key lessons he can take from the Chiefs and Eagles’ success as the 2023 offseason quickly approaches.

Justin Fields
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Remain patient with Justin Fields

One thing the Chiefs and Eagles have displayed over the last few seasons is their patience with their quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts.

Mahomes was given a redshirt season during his first year in the league. He learned behind veteran Alex Smith and earned a master’s degree in football before being thrust into the starting lineup. And while Mahomes’ incredible natural gifts probably could’ve been unleashed during the 2017 season, the fact he had that extra year to adjust to the NFL game was critical to his success.

Now six years into his career, the Chiefs are still seeing year-over-year improvements from the league’s most talented quarterback. Patrick Mahomes won the 2022 NFL MVP and set a career-high in passing yards this season. Kansas City’s unwavering commitment to him has been a big part of why his career has been so successful. More traditional offensive coordinators and quarterback coaches may have tried to change Mahomes’ gunslinger and trick-shot approach. The Chiefs didn’t. The result is a player who has a chance to shatter NFL records and whose bust is already being prepared for Canton.

The Eagles have had a similar approach to Jalen Hurts, who, unlike Mahomes, didn’t light the NFL on fire when he took over for Carson Wentz as Philadelphia’s starter. His running talent was evident right away, but his ability as a passer has been a work in progress over the last three years. In 2022, Hurts set career highs in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and passer rating, all because the Eagles stuck with him and added talent around him.

Hurts wasn’t a first-round quarterback. The Eagles selected him in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft. It would’ve been easy to give up on him after the 2020 season when he completed just 52% of his passes over a four-game sample size as a starter. His future as Philadelphia’s quarterback was unstable, at best, but the Eagles organization stayed faithful to him. Hurts is rewarding Philadelphia’s patience and commitment by playing MVP-caliber football while leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl.

The Bears must take notice of this critical element in a quarterback’s success. Young players need to know they have the support and confidence of their team. Justin Fields is no different. His 2022 season showed flashes of incredible upside, even as a passer. And as long as Chicago stays the course with his development, he, too, can reward the Bears with a Super Bowl berth in the not-too-distant future. He’s that good.

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