Apr 30, 2021

Five thoughts on the Bears picking Justin Fields

Five thoughts on the Bears picking Justin Fields

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Good morning, frents!

How are we feeling today?

The Bears pulled off the boldest move of Thursday night's first round, trading up nine spots to select Justin Fields after the Ohio State quarterback fell out of the top 10.

I think I've gone through an entire range of emotions since Roger Goodell said Fields' name in Cleveland. I'm both excited and scared, nervous and happy. After getting off the four-year Mitch Trubisky roller coaster, we're hopping straight back on to another ride without any time to let our stomachs settle.

And yet this is exactly how it's supposed to happen in the modern-day NFL. Ryan Pace saw the opportunity to take a franchise-altering pick and took it without letting his past failures dictate the move. We've been after him to take more swings at the position and, well, the windups don't come much bigger than this.

Fields enters the NFL coming off two starring seasons at Ohio State in which he threw for 63 touchdowns and just nine interceptions while rushing for 15 more. He was named the Big Ten's offensive player of the year both seasons and was widely considered a top 5 pick until questions about his work ethic made him 2021's most picked-apart prospect.

Whether or not Fields proves those doubters wrong remains to be seen. No one is going to blame anyone for being guarded given Pace's track record with selecting quarterbacks and the Bears' ineptitude at the position for more than a half-century before that.

This one, though, might be different.

Here are five more thoughts about the pick:

1. It makes 2021 interesting: Ryan Pace made sure to note late Thursday night that Andy Dalton remains QB1. (No need to delete this tweet!) That's the right move, even if the cynics among us might note (even correctly) that Pace and Matt Nagy just found a way to stick around Halas Hall for 2-3 more years.

But even if Fields goes on the Patrick Mahomes plan and holds a clipboard for the entire year, it's still going to be a more compelling season than had the Bears stayed put at No. 20.  It's a lot easier to stay tuned in to every aspect of the team when there's hope at the sport's most important position.

2. This wasn't Trubisky 2.0: Pace was probably too busy to be on Twitter collecting receipts, but there won't be many people out there able to claim they thought Pace should have done something different. After the Lions, Panthers and Broncos passed on QBs with picks 7-9, the noise for Pace to trade up and get Fields was deafening. It was the obvious move to make and the Monday morning quarterbacks won't get to claim otherwise if Fields doesn't produce.

3. The value was great: My friend and sports betting impresario Sam Panayatovich likes to talk about making the "right pick" at the "right price." And that's what happened here for the Bears. Once Fields slipped out of the top 10, it wasn't a gamble that was going to require multiple years of firsts or trading away 2021 picks the team needs to retool. (The 49ers gave the Dolphins three first-rounders plus two thirds for the right to move up to No. 3 and take Trey Lance.)

No, the price for the move still wasn't cheap. The Giants got the Bears pick at 20 and this year's fifth-rounder plus next year's first and fourth. The loss of next year's first could hurt, particularly if the Bears stumble into the top 10.

Yet no one is going to bat an eye if Fields turns out to be a game-changer because that's what these moves cost. Plus the Bears kept both of tonight's picks in the second and third round, which still allows them to address their need on the offensive line and in the secondary.

4. Something to prove: When Fields arrives at Halas Hall, I hope he's immediately presented with the world's biggest chip to place on his shoulder. And I hope he plays with it as he tackles the opportunity. Fields had to deal with so much doubt over the past few months, whether it was with questions about his personal makeup or the lack of success that his predecessors from Ohio State have shown in the NFL. If he can't internalize that and use it to his advantage, we've got problems.

5. Please let this be the one: Thursday's draft started with a report that Aaron Rodgers wants out of Green Bay as soon as possible and ended with the Bears being widely praised for trading up to take a quarterback.

I'll be honest: I like living in this Twilight Zone.

And while I've been burned way too many times to put on the parade that some on Bears Twitter are staging, I have something that I didn't at this time yesterday morning.

A little bit of hope.


Name the last time the Bears took an Ohio State player in the first round

Thursday's results
Cubs 9, Braves 3
Sox 3, Tigers 1
Sox 11, Tigers 0
Panthers 4, Hawks 3 (OT)

Cubs at Reds (6:10, Marquee)
Indians at Sox (7:10, NBCSCH)
Bucks at Bulls (8, NBCSCH+)

Fire at NY Red Bulls (Noon, WGN)
Cubs at Reds (3:10, Marquee)
Indians at Sox (3:05, NBCSCH)
Bulls at Hawks (7, NBCSCH)
Panthers at Hawks (, NBCSCH+)

Cubs at Reds (12:10, Marquee)
Indians at Sox (1:10, NBCSCH)

Final: Sox 3, Tigers 1 / Sox 11, Tigers 0

Sweeeeep. Carlos Rodon dominated in Thursday's first game, striking out 12 batters over just six innings and Dylan Cease pitched a complete-game seven-inning shutout with nine strikeouts in the night cap.

  • The day's best offensive highlight was Yermin Mercedes hitting a Thome-like blast to center field and Jason Benetti marking the occasion with a Monty Python reference.
  • Sox have won six of seven. At 14-10, they're 1.5 games behind the first-place Royals.

Next: Cleveland comes to town for the weekend. Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 4.32) gets tonight's start against Shane Bieber (2-2, 2.48).

Final: Cubs 9, Braves 3

Adbert Alzolay, stopper? The Cubs rookie halted the Braves lineup with just two runs over six strong innings. The losing streak ends at five while a four-game sweep is averted.

  • The Cubs lineup also showed signs of life after two straight shutouts, racking up 16 hits. Reliever Anthony Rizzo went 3-of-6 from the leadoff spot on his rest day.
  • Kris Bryant went 2-for-4 to boost his average to .310.

Next: The Cubs roll into Cincinnati to face the Reds, who have lost 8 of their last 10. Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.57) gets the opener against Wade Miley (2-2, 2.45).

Final: Panthers 4, Hawks 3 (OT)

An Alex DeBrincat one-timer with just 18 seconds remaining forced OT, but a Sam Bennett with just 52 seconds left earned two points for Florida.

  • The Hawks playoff hopes are all but gone. They trail the Predators and Stars by six and four points, respectively. Six games remain, including a final weekend series against the Stars that a limited number of fans will be able to attend.

Next: The Hawks and Panthers conclude their season series with a game at the UC on Saturday.

  1. Eric Edholm's in-depth draft profile of Justin Fields is a good starting point for those who didn't watch much Big Ten football. Yahoo Sports
  2. Adam Kilgore on Fields' inexplicable path from college star to this draft's "punching bag" Washington Post
  3. Sox fans had a loud reaction to the Fields news at Guaranteed Rate on Thursday night. CBS Sports
  4. Phil Rosenthal has 10 suggestions on how NBC Sports Chicago can improve its product. Tribune
  5. A review of Buona Beef's new beefless Italian beef. The Takeout

Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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