Justin Fields

Bears GM: Would Need To Be ‘Blown Away’ To Draft QB At No. 1

Seeing their 10-game losing streak prove enough — thanks to some help from their former coach in his Texans finale — the Bears have a number of options at No. 1 overall. By virtue of the Texans’ Lovie Smith-guided win Sunday, the Bears have a chance to make the No. 1 overall pick for the first time in 76 years.

Chicago could go with a best-player-available approach, likely ending with an SEC defensive lineman, or put the pick up for sale. No one has traded down from No. 1 since the Titans did so in 2016 (allowing the Rams to land Jared Goff). A third option — drafting a quarterback first overall — looks to be a much lower-percentage shot for GM Ryan Poles.

We’re going to do the same as we’ve always done — we’re going to evaluate the draft class,” Poles said Tuesday, “and I would say this: I would have to be absolutely blown away to make that type of decision.

[RELATED: Colts Open To Trading Up For Quarterback]

While the Bears selecting a quarterback first overall would remind of the Cardinals’ 2019 decision to take Kyler Murray a year after they had chosen Josh Rosen 10th overall in 2018, Justin Fields has shown far more than Rosen did. The Bears have Fields signed through 2024, and a fifth-year option would take the run-oriented QB’s deal through 2025. Bryce Young‘s pre-draft buzz could conceivably affect Fields, but as of now, it does not sound like that will happen.

Poles endorsed Fields as the Bears’ starting quarterback in 2023. Despite the Bears not equipping him with too much at wide receiver, the deadline deal for Chase Claypool notwithstanding, Fields showed growth during his second season. He nearly broke Lamar Jackson‘s record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Chicago’s decision to shut him down ahead of Week 18 kept the Ohio State product at 1,143 rushing yards — second-most in a season by a QB.

Fields, however, took an NFL-high 55 sacks, and the Bears ranked last in the league in passing. It would be rather shocking for Chicago to take a quarterback, but this regime did not draft Fields in 2021. Poles and Co. will prepare for the Bears’ rare opportunity atop the draft board.

I think we have really good flexibility to help this team, regardless if it’s making the pick there or moving back a little bit or moving back a lot. We’ll be open to everything,” Poles said. “We can evaluate the talent there; we can see what player presents themselves in that position to help us, and then we can look at the scenario. If the phones go off and there are certain situations where that can help us, then we’ll go down that avenue, too.”

Moving up 14 spots to No. 1 in 2016, the Rams sent the Titans two 2016 second-rounders, their 2017 first and a 2017 third in the Goff deal. Prior to that, the last time a team traded out of No. 1 overall — excluding the 2004 Philip RiversEli Manning scenario that came about because of the latter’s wishes to not play in San Diego — was 2001, when the Chargers gave the Falcons the Michael Vick pick. The Bears, however, sent the 49ers two third-round choices and a fourth-rounder to move up one spot for Mitch Trubisky at No. 2 in 2017. Considering Young’s Heisman pedigree, Chicago might ask for more than that if Houston wanted to climb a spot this year.

Thanks to the Fields and Khalil Mack trades, the Bears have only made two first-round picks over the past five drafts. Trading down would allow for the rebuilding team to keep stockpiling assets, as it showed it was willing to do with the trades of veteran defenders last year. Otherwise, Will Anderson or Jalen Carter — Mel Kiper Jr.’s top two players in the 2023 class — would await to give Chicago a centerpiece of its defensive rebuild.

Justin Fields To Start In Week 13

DECEMBER 3: Getting Fields back is crucial for the Bears this week as their backup quarterback, Siemian is being placed on IR. To fulfill the backup duties, Chicago has signed the practice squad quarterback, Peterman, to the active roster, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

DECEMBER 2: Justin Fields has made steady progress since suffering a dislocated shoulder, and he will ultimately miss just one game as a result of it. The Bears quarterback is not on the team’s Week 13 injury report, meaning he is in line to start on Sunday.

Fields was carted off the field during Chicago’s Week 11 loss to the Falcons. The injury took away his opportunity to record three consecutive 100-yard rushing games, but more importantly, also left his short- and intermediate-term availability in question. After further testing, it became clear that his return to game action would be dependent on pain management.

The 2021 first-rounder expressed optimism in being able to suit up for Week 12, but was held out. He received first-team reps in practice this week, though, and was listed as a full participant for the past two days. As a result, head coach Matt Eberflus said Fields is “100%” with respect to his health status leading into the upcoming contest against the Packers.

“Right now he feels, and we feel, that the mobility and strength is there for him to protect himself,” Eberflus added, via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, on Twitter“and he feels like he’s a hundred percent, ready to go.” 

That will allow the Ohio State alum to pick up where he left off in what has become an encouraging second year in the NFL. Fields has taken an incremental step forward as a passer in 2022, operating within a very run-heavy scheme and with a pass-catching corps which will no longer include No. 1 wideout Darnell Mooney for the rest of the season. On the ground, though, Fields has become the team’s offensive focal point with a league-leading 6.8 yards per carry and seven rushing touchdowns.

Even as Fields is set to return, however, the Bears will be shorthanded under center moving forward. Veteran backup Trevor Siemian – who filled in for Fields last week – suffered an oblique injury during warmups. While he was able to play through it during Chicago’s loss to the Jets, the 30-year-old will now undergo season-ending surgery, per an announcement from Eberflus. That will leave Fields and Nathan Peterman available as signal-callers for the remainder of the season.

The 3-9 Bears are not in the thick of the NFC playoff race, but they will have the opportunity to evaluate Fields both in terms of his recovery, and his continued career ascension as the rebuilding squad eyes improvements in the offseason.

Bears To Start QB Trevor Siemian In Week 12

NOVEMBER 27, 12:04pm: Scratch that. Siemian is under center for the Bears, with Peterman operating as the backup.

NOVEMBER 27, 11:29am: Fields is indeed inactive for Sunday’s contest against the Jets, and in even worse news for the Bears, Siemian injured his oblique during pregame warmups (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network). Therefore, Peterman will be making his first start since Week 9 of the 2018 season, while Siemian will serve as his backup.

As Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com tweets, RB David Montgomery is Chicago’s emergency signal-caller.

NOVEMBER 26: It sounds like the Bears are preparing for tomorrow’s game as if they won’t have Justin Fields under center. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (via Twitter) that Chicago has promoted quarterback Nathan Peterman from the practice squad.

Fields has been nursing a shoulder injury that resulted in him being listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Jets. The QB told reporters that he’s dealing with a separated shoulder with partially torn ligaments, and while he acknowledged that he’s feeling better every day, he was still limited on Thursday and Friday before earning his official questionable designation.

“I think we’re going to let it go up to the game,” coach Matt Eberflus said (via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin). “We’ll try to do that. We think that’s where it is, and we’ll see where he is at game time and see how he feels.”

If Fields doesn’t play, veteran Trevor Siemian will likely earn his first start of the season. The Bears had been rolling with only two quarterbacks on their active roster prior to today’s transaction. Garafolo notes that the Bears will likely take their starting QB decision down to game time.

As for Peterman, the veteran QB has spent the majority of the 2022 season on Chicago’s practice squad. Following a one-plus-year stint with the Bills to start his career, Peterman spent the better part of the past four seasons with the Raiders. He only got into a pair of games during his time with the organization, completing three of his five pass attempts.

Justin Fields Aiming To Play In Week 12

Justin Fields has been a revelation in recent weeks with his rushing ability driving a major increase in the Bears’ offensive production. His shoulder injury has left both his short- and long-term availability in question, however.

When speaking to the media, Fields provided further clarity on his diagnosis. The 23-year-old indicated, via Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times, that he has a separated left shoulder with partially torn ligaments. That differs from initial reports that he had dislocated his non-throwing shoulder. Fields has been classified as day-to-day.

At practice on Wednesday, Fields suffered sufficient pain that he admitted he would have to be feeling much better to be able to suit up on Sunday against the Jets. As was the case yesterday, the 2021 first-rounder was classified as a limited participant in practice on Thursday. Fields is leaving the door open to playing without missing any game action, though.

“If I can play and I’m not furthering the risk of injury and I can do what I need to do to protect myself, that’ll be good enough for me to play,” the Ohio State alum said. He added that he would receive a painkilling injection prior to kickoff in the event he was cleared to play, but that he is unsure at this point if he would wear a harness or brace to protect the injured shoulder.

Fields has taken a step forward in Year 2, after a rocky rookie season and questions about his passing ability lingering well into 2022. He has thrown 11 touchdowns over his past seven games, albeit with four interceptions and 24 sacks being included in that stretch. With significant upticks in his passer rating, not to mention his usage and effectiveness on the ground, Fields has become the focal point of an offense which sits at the polar extremes with respect to rushing (best in the league) and passing (worst) averages, but mid-pack in overall scoring.

If Fields is unable to play in Week 12, Chicago will give the nod to veteran Trevor SiemianDepending on how things progress in the coming days, however, he may not be needed when the Bears look to snap their four-game losing streak.

Justin Fields Suffers Dislocated Shoulder

Justin Fields has been a major talking point around the league given his improved play in recent weeks. His health is now a question mark, however, in the wake of a shoulder injury he suffered Sunday.

The former first-round pick dislocated his left shoulder, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). When speaking to the media Monday, head coach Matt Eberflus said that Fields is considered day-to-day (Twitter link via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin). Rather alarmingly, however, he didn’t rule out the possibility that the injury will be season-ending for the Ohio State product.

The 23-year-old was carted off the field to undergo evaluation, and later underwent an X-ray and received an IV (Twitter link via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune). Fields mentioned after the game that he was dealing with a significant amount of pain.

More clarity on the matter will likely come on Wednesday when an official designation will be required upon Fields’ participation (or lack thereof) in practice. Especially this early in the week, Eberflus’ remarks could simply be a means of keeping the availability of the 2021 first-rounder in the air as the team prepares to face the Jets in Week 12.

Any absence, or even limitation, for Fields would be crippling to the Bears’ offense, though. After an uninspiring rookie season, the former No. 11 pick has become far more consistent in recent games in particular. While Chicago’s run-heavy scheme has limited Fields to just one game over 200 passing yards, his passer rating of 86.2 represents a sharp improvement from 2021. Most notably, of course, he has been hugely productive with his legs, totaling 834 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Especially if this injury proves serious, the rate at which Fields has run (122 carries through the first 11 games of the season) will become even more of a talking point as the Bears’ scheme under new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy continues to evolve. If Fields is unable to suit up, the team will turn to veteran Trevor Siemian in his place, after he signed a two-year deal this offseason.

Colts Rumors: Saturday, Ryan, Fields, Rivers

The Colts made headlines on Monday when the team decided to fire head coach Frank Reich, naming former center Jeff Saturday the interim head coach for the rest of the year. The decision to appoint Saturday drew widespread surprise as Saturday has no former NFL coaching experience.

Team owner Jim Irsay defended the decision even claiming that Saturday could remain head coach beyond the 2022-23 NFL season, according to ESPN’s Stephen Holder. General manager Chris Ballard claimed that the Colts attempted to bring Saturday into the league coaching circle in 2019 as an offensive line coach and approached him about a position this year, as well. Saturday has reportedly served as a consultant for the team, with Irsay contacting him as recently as Sunday during the team’s loss to the Patriots to inquire about blocking issues, according to Zak Keefer of The Athletic.

Here are a few other rumors concerning the Colts:

  • In response to former Colts head coach Tony Dungy‘s recent accusations that the team benched starting quarterback Matt Ryan in order to stay within the boundaries of an injury guarantee in Ryan’s contract, Irsay attempted to set the record straight, according to Bob Kravitz of The Athletic. Irsay insisted that there are no playing time guarantees in Ryan’s contract. “There’s no such thing,” Irsay claimed. “There’s no bonus if Matt plays a certain amount of time.” If such an incentive does exist, it has not been reported.
  • Mishandling the revolving door of quarterbacks in Indianapolis was a factor that led to Reich’s dismissal, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Breer posits that, instead of going after former quarterback Carson Wentz, the team should have moved up to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, something he reports “was a very real consideration for Ballard and Reich early in the process.” The team instead selected Michigan pass-rusher Kwity Paye, allowing the Bears the opportunity to move up and select Fields. The Colts would later trade Wentz away to Washington after one season.
  • One of the other quarterback situations that didn’t work out in the long run for Indianapolis was the signing of Philip Rivers in 2020. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Ballard signed Rivers expecting the veteran to lead the team’s offense for multiple years. Although Rivers did take the Colts to the playoffs, he retired after one season with the team, leading the Colts to make more moves for Wentz and, eventually, Ryan in the years to follow.

Pats’ McDaniels Not Getting Interview Requests?

In an article for NBC Sports, Mike Florio divulged that a source with knowledge of the situation informed him that Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels hasn’t received requests to be interviewed by any of the eight teams currently looking for a new head coach. This development has surprised the Patriots, but they expect the situation to change soon. 

McDaniels is a long time Patriots’ staffer, first joining the organization in 2001 as a personnel assistant. After a year, McDaniels worked with the team as a defensive assistant for two years before switching to the offensive side of the coaching staff. After one season as the Patriots’ quarterbacks coach, McDaniels was promoted to offensive coordinator, developing the Patriots’ offense into the juggernaut that broke several NFL records in the 2007 season. His coaching success led to much speculation that he could be a top candidate for head coaching jobs, but he pulled his name out of the ring before the Patriots even finished their playoff run.

When McDaniels was able to lead a Patriots team quarterbacked by Matt Cassel to an 11-5 record, following a season-ending injury to Tom Brady in Week 1 of the 2008 season, the Broncos saw fit to name McDaniels as their new head coach for the 2009 NFL season. McDaniels’s tenure in Denver started with a six-game win-streak before losing eight of the next ten games to finish the season 8-8. After a 3-9 start to the 2010 season, and multiple controversies from his handling of difficult players, Denver decided they’d seen enough and fired McDaniels after Week 13. McDaniels spent a year as the offensive coordinator of the Rams, under Steve Spagnuolo, before returning to New England following Spagnuolo’s firing.

McDaniels has stayed in Foxborough ever since. He’s continued to draw head coaching interest here and there, even accepting the head coach position for the Indianapolis Colts in February of 2018 before backing out of his commitment on the same day to stay in New England, prompting his long-time agent, Bob LaMonte, to sever ties with McDaniels.

McDaniels’s handling and development of rookie quarterback Mac Jones has led to some speculation that one of the two teams that have both 1) a head coaching vacancy and 2) a young quarterback might show immediate interest in the 45-year old coordinator. Can Bill Polian overlook his lack of a good relationship with McDaniels and advise that the Bears bring him in to mentor Justin Fields? Will McDaniels decide that he can handle working for Trent Baalke and agree to take Trevor Lawrence under his wing? Keep track of McDaniels and other candidates in our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/13/22

Today’s updates for the reserve/COVID-19 and practice squad/COVID-19 lists:

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Jacksonville Jaguars

New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/6/22

Here are the Thursday additions and subtractions from teams’ reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Bears Place Justin Fields On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Bears will very likely not have their rookie signal-caller available for the season finale against the Vikings. Quarterback Justin Fields has been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). 

Fields has appeared in 12 games this year, including 10 starts. For the most part, though, it has been a rookie season to forget; Fields has a 2-8 record, a completion percentage of 58.9% and more interceptions (10) than touchdown passes (seven). While he has added 420 yards and two touchdowns on 72 carries (for a healthy average of 5.8 yards per attempt), he’s also been sacked 36 times and taken a number of big hits while keeping the ball himself.

Assuming Fields is unable to play, look for Andy Dalton to get the start, as he did in Week 17’s 29-3 win over the Giants. In that case, Nick Foles would again dress as the backup. Dalton has been about what could be expected in the twilight of his career, posting a 3-2 record, 61.7% completion percentage and even (7:7) touchdown-to-interception ratio in five starts this campaign.

Given the uncertainty around Head Coach Matt Nagy beyond Sunday, this news could very well mean Fields has played his final game before a replacement coach is brought in. The 6-10 Bears end a disappointing 2021 season in Minnesota, against the 7-9 Vikings.