Chicago Bears will build offense around QB Justin Fields, new coach Matt Eberflus says

CHICAGO -- New Bears coach Matt Eberflus had a very simple answer to how he'll handle second-year quarterback Justin Fields as the team begins installing a new system.

"Building the offense around him and his strengths," Eberflus said Monday, after being introduced as the 17th head coach in franchise history. "What does that look like? I don't know right now.

"We have to look at him. We have to evaluate him. We have to see where his skill set is. And then see his camera. How does he see the game? How fast does he process? How fast does he do things and how can we stretch him as we go?"

The offense is high on the to-do list for Eberflus and new general manager Ryan Poles as they take over the Bears from Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace, respectively. Nagy inherited former Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky -- which ultimately didn't work out. Now Eberflus and Poles are in the same situation, inheriting Fields, who was drafted last year and had a rocky rookie season. The Bears ranked 27th in scoring in 2021, averaging 18.3 points per game.

"I'm very excited," Fields said Monday. "Having a defensive head coach, I feel like there are some positives to that. I feel like being on the offense, you kind of know what the defense is doing, but you don't know what they're fully doing. ... When you have a defensive head coach, he's able to explain to you what their jobs are, what their certain assignments are in a certain coverage, so I think that's one plus on having a defensive head coach."

Eberflus was the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts before taking over in Chicago. The team hired former Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy to run the offense, but he and Eberflus are also inheriting a roster largely devoid of playmakers -- outside of Fields.

"Explosive athletic ability is one of the traits we are looking for," Eberflus said. "That equals chunk plays on offense and it equals stopping chunk plays on defense. If you want to score points, you have to get chunk plays and big plays. That's how you score."

Poles is a former offensive lineman, so not surprisingly, he believes the "foundation" of the offensive unit starts there. The Bears already have the makings of a strong run game with holdovers David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert under contract. But it'll be Fields who determines whether the new Bears regime is successful.

Eberflus was asked whether he considered the 22-year-old a franchise quarterback.

"Right now we're looking at everybody through the same lens, meaning that we're going to go back and we're going to watch those guys with a fresh eye and we're going to see where they are, in terms of what they need to develop," Eberflus said.

Asked later where his mindset was with Fields, Eberflus clarified his position.

"We're building the offense around the quarterback," he said.

For his part, Fields plans on talking to the coaches about the new system, whatever it might be.

"It's important for coaches to run plays that their players are good at running," Fields said. "They already have a base idea what my strengths are, but me being able to communicate with them and tell them what my strengths are, we can get on the same page. But there's going to be some new stuff that we didn't run last year that works and I've never run before. ... And by the time training camp comes around, I'll know it."

While the Bears' fan base is expecting big things from the new coaching staff, patience will be a part of the process. That's especially true with a new general manager, coach and offense and just a second-year quarterback.

"Then let's grow and grow and grow," Eberflus said. "What can we execute now? What can we execute down the road? And we have to be creative, you have to be creative on offense. We plan to be."