This offseason, the Chicago Bears have been a punching bag to anyone looking for an easy target.
New general manager Ryan Poles came into a situation where he needed to completely overhaul the roster and launch a full-on rebuild, which is exactly what he did.
But, what he has not done — at least according to the national media — is surround second-year quarterback Justin Fields with enough talent to correctly develop.
Poles’ biggest offensive additions this offseason were signing receiver Byron Pringle and offensive lineman Lucas Patrick, along with drafting third-round wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. But, compared to expectations, this wasn’t enough to get the job done.
Still, Poles’ first year as general manager has not been a bad one by any means. The folks with all of the power in media, however, don’t want to talk about it.
Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles is not getting enough credit for what he’s done with the team’s secondary.
Sure, much of the focus should be on Fields and the offense. But, Poles has completely turned around one of the Bears’ weakest areas from 2021: the secondary.
Would it have been nice to see a receiver drafted in the second round? Of course. But, when Poles drafted Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker, he was doing the future of this franchise an enormous favor.
As the story goes, Gordon and Brisker combined to allow just one touchdown in their entire collegiate careers. They’re going to step in and start immediately, joining Jaylon Johnson and Eddie Jackson to form what could end up being an elite secondary in Chicago.
Gordon was looked at as a first-round pick by many, while Brisker was even mocked in the first at times, if not the very early second round. For the Bears to get them at no. 39 and 48 was a dream.
Not only did Poles draft two studs who will start immediately in the secondary, but he made one of the more underrated free agent signings, filling yet another hole in the secondary. Veteran slot corner Tavon Young was a sneaky good signing for this Bears defense, but again, we’re not talking enough about him.
Since entering the league in 2016, Young has been a Pro Football Focus darling, earning the top-graded rookie cornerback that season over the likes of highly-touted names such as Vernon Hargreaves, Eli Apple and Artie Burns.
Even beyond Young, the Bears have second-year pro Thomas Graham Jr. who did some great things towards the end of last season. He will be able to provide the Bears with great depth at either slot or outside, giving them some versatility.
For a secondary that was scared to tackle, made very few takeaways (only eight interceptions in 2021) and gave up a lot of big plays, this group looks completely different in 2022. Poles should be getting a ton of praise for his job in this area, but instead everyone is focused on what he hasn’t done.
This thing is going to take time. Let’s give Poles through next offseason before we really judge, because he’s in this thing for the long haul. He’s building a foundation right now, with intent to make 2023 his big offseason for the offense.
For now, ignore the national criticism and enjoy what Poles is building, because it’s actually quite impressive.