Bears’ Biggest Draft Need Was Hope; And They Delivered
My brain keeps telling me to be skeptical about this pick. Forty years of being a Bears’ fan has engrained within me an almost permanent cynicism when it comes to any quarterback-related decision made by this franchise. The Bears’ ineptitude when it comes to the quarterback position, epic to say the least, is hard to exaggerate. In my lifetime, I’ve been forced to endure a tortuous parade of nightmarishly-bad QB’s. From Rick Mirer to Moses Moreno, Cade McNown to Henry Burris, Kordell Stewart to Chris Chandler, Craig Krenzel to Chad Hutchinson (I’m getting flashbacks as I write these names), the Bears’ inability to secure a franchise quarterback is the stuff of legend. And what is perhaps even worse, is that with our level of expectations so depressed, we have been forced to get excited that a Rex Grossman, or a Kyle Orton, or a re-tread Brian Griese or Nick Foles might somehow prove to be the answer.
My brain keeps telling me that I’m supposed to hate this pick, because the man who engineered it should never have been in the position to have ANY input in choosing the Bears’ next quarterback. You would think that giving Mike Glennon a $43 million contract, shedding precious draft capital to select Mitchell Trubisky (bypassing Mahomes and Watson in the process), and giving up a 4th round pick to trade for Nick Foles, who has now cost the Bears $20 million, would permanently disqualify Ryan Pace from ever going near a quarterback room for the rest of his life. Therefore, any personnel move where Ryan Pace is pulling the strings, especially at the most important position, is bound to be a failure…right?
My brain is searching for reasons to be disappointed with this pick…I mean, has there EVER been an Ohio State quarterback that has experienced even a semblance of success in the NFL…as a quarterback? And Joe Burrow, who left Ohio State in 2018 for LSU, doesn’t count. Terrelle Pryor may have arguably been the most successful to play at the next level, but he did so as a wide receiver. In the common draft era, fifteen Buckeye quarterbacks have been selected by NFL teams, and none of them have panned out. Kent Graham, Joe Germaine, the aforementioned Craig Krenzel, Troy Smith, Cardale Jones, and of course, Dwayne Haskins, have perpetuated the notion that Buckeye quarterbacks are destined to underachieve, if not utterly fail, upon reaching the NFL. So why should we expect anything different from Justin Fields?
As a Bears’ fan, I have every reason to expect that Justin Fields will add his name to a long list of woefully inadequate quarterbacks for this franchise. That cynicism and sense of foreboding has been well earned.
But this leads me to an important question, one that has been gnawing at me since Thursday night: Why does this time around feel different? Why can’t I help but be excited that Justin Fields is going to be a Bear?
I had been adamant that the best thing the Bears could do in this draft was to stay where they were at pick #20, do the responsible thing, draft an offensive tackle, or a corner to replace the recently-released Kyle Fuller. The LAST thing Ryan Pace should do, I told myself again and again, is to aggressively move up and relinquish more draft capital in a desperate attempt to save his job. But as I watched the draft unfold, it started to become clear that one of “The Five” might actually be within striking distance, and my heart was pulling for that exact outcome.
As it turns out, the Bears did make a move. Ryan Pace DID in fact give up more draft picks (a 5th rounder this year, and a 1st and 4th round pick next year) in order to select a quarterback. Given Ryan Pace’s catastrophic track record in selecting quarterbacks, my common sense was telling me I should be outraged by this decision.
So then why did I feel excitement? The following day, why did the sun seem to shine a little brighter, my step a bit lighter? I had this strange feeling that I could not explain, a feeling that has been largely foreign to Bears’ fans like myself in recent memory…HOPE. As “Red” from The Shawshank Redemption reminds us, “Hope…is a dangerous thing…hope can drive a man (especially a Bears’ fan) insane.” There haven’t been many reasons, if any at all, for me to feel hopeful about this teams’ future the last two seasons. This was especially the case during this off-season….that is, until Thursday night. Hope was the Bears’ biggest draft need, and they delivered. Regardless of what Justin Fields does, or does not do, in his time in Chicago, regardless of whether you despise the pick or love it, his selection has given us a reason to watch this year, a reason to be hopeful.
Yes, Ryan Pace gave up draft picks to move up and grab Fields, but it wasn’t a king’s ransom. And if Fields ends up being as advertised, then the price the Bears’ paid will be immaterial.
Yes, Ohio State has never produced a successful franchise quarterback in the NFL, but this isn’t Mike Tomczak, or Troy Smith, or even Dwayne Haskins that the Bears drafted. Justin Fields is unquestionably more talented, more athletic, and let’s not forget, that until very recently, Fields was considered by many to be the 2nd best player in this entire draft class, second only to Trevor Lawrence.
Of course it’s possible that Fields could turn out to be a bust, but this STILL would have been the right move by the Bears. If Fields does not turn out to be the franchise QB that the Bears envision, I can hardly blame Ryan Pace (this time at least).
Fields is the most gifted and accomplished player that this team has drafted in recent memory, perhaps ever. Follow that up with one of the best offensive tackles in the draft, a player in Teven Jenkins whom many projected to go in the first round, and Ryan Pace is getting incredible value as he addresses the teams’ biggest needs by landing two of the highest-rated players at their respective positions.
I have often made the mistake of being overly buoyant when it comes to the Bears’ future prospects, only to feel foolish when my hopes were shattered. So call me crazy, and you very well may, but this time just feels different. So join with me in my optimism that the Bears finally did get it right at the quarterback position, and as Andy Dufresne reminds us, “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things…and no good thing ever dies.”