The Chicago Bears still have one more game left to play before they can officially start diving into their much-anticipated 2023 offseason, but certain members of the Bears media are already starting to push the idea of the franchise drafting a new quarterback of the future in the upcoming NFL draft to replace Justin Fields.
Longtime Bears insider Hub Arkush was asked about Fields during his guest appearance on 670 The Score’s Parker & Spiegel Show on January 3 and, despite some initial praise for his leadership and rushing ability, criticized his knowledge and ability as a passer. He added that there is “no guarantee that [the Bears have] their quarterback of the future.”
“He’s not even an average passer yet,” Arkush said. “He may be the best runner in the league, if not he’s certainly one of the best runners — and that is a great thing to have. He has shown tremendous leadership and toughness. I think he’s got the arm strength. What he doesn’t have is the knowledge of the position. He’s not seeing things as well as the good ones do, and it’s a really interesting situation right now because they may still end up with the first pick. It sounds like the worst is going to be the second pick, and there is no guarantee that they’ve got their quarterback of the future yet. They’ve got a kid that’s worth working with and I can say a lot of good things about him and nothing negative about him, but let’s be honest about where he is right now. He is nowhere near a sure thing at quarterback”
There are certainly valid criticisms of Fields’ ability as a passer, even if the poor quality of his offensive line and receiving weapons make it more difficult to fully evaluate. He finished his second NFL season with just a 60.4 completion percentage (192 of 318) and threw for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, which puts him in the lower third of the league for 2022 in terms of his passing production. Even some of the biggest Fields fans would acknowledge that growth as a passer is a must for 2023.
Arkush, however, wonders if the Bears could turn themselves into a “great” football team if they use their top-two draft pick to find a new quarterback of the future … and push Fields into a gadget role that would capitalize on his ability as a rusher.
Arkush Believes Fields Could Be ‘Combo RB’ for Bears
The Bears are heading into the final week of the 2022 regular season with a shot at getting the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. If the Bears lose in their finale against the Minnesota Vikings, they will be guaranteed at least one of the top two picks and would lock up the No. 1 with a loss and a Houston Texans win over the Indianapolis Colts. Naturally, Bears fans have been elated at the possibility of being able to either use the pick to get a top-tier rookie defender or trade down with a quarterback-needy team for a massive haul that could accelerate their rebuilding plan.
In Arkush’s mind, though, there is a third possibility that would see the Bears’ new regime use their rare No. 1/No. 2 overall pick to select their own quarterback.
“One of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about, guys, — and I’ve heard nobody talking about that — is I’m not so sure that the Bears couldn’t be a great team by drafting a new quarterback of the future and keeping Justin Fields as a combination running back/super tool, whatever you want to call it,” Arkush said. “And they could build something really interesting with something like that. If that’s what they want. I’m not saying [Fields is] not going to be the next great quarterback. He may be, but I just think people have gone too far and overrated what he has done so far.”
Arkush Reminds New Bears Regime Didn’t Draft Fields
Arkush also circled back to a point that several analysts were raising during the 2022 offseason after Ryan Poles took over as the team’s general manager. Ryan Pace was the one who traded up to draft Fields in 2021, not Poles, and there could be a desire by the new management to acquire a quarterback who fits their vision — if Fields doesn’t.
“What nobody seems to be focusing on is that this management didn’t draft this kid. He is not their guy,” Arkush said. “Their approach to this is going to be what have they seen so far, what can they do with it and what else is available. And I think he’s going to be the starting quarterback in the first game of 2023 and I think he probably should be, and that part of it is all fine, but what they’re doing here is they’ve decided that — in today’s NFL when you’re bad — the idea is get as bad as you can and get the assets to rebuild as completely as you can. That was always the goal.
“At the end of the day, the rebuild is just starting and now they have to be really careful. Not just at everything but quarterback, but at everything.”