It appears unusual when your crew had the league’s worst report final 12 months, but the upcoming NFL season is probably the most anticipated in a long time for the Chicago Bears.
“There’s quite a lot of optimism surrounding us – and for good cause,” vast receiver Chase Claypool instructed BBC Sport.
“We’ve got a celebrity quarterback and we have had an excellent low season for coaching and choosing up the best gamers.”
That celebrity is Justin Fields, probably the most dynamic quarterback Chicago have had in half a century.
Those that have watched his first two years within the NFL say he is “a playmaker you’ll be able to by no means take your eyes off”.
Shaun Gayle, a member of the Bears’ solely Tremendous Bowl-winning crew, says Fields is destined to “go away an enduring impression on Chicago”.
Here is why followers are so wanting to see if Fields and the Bears can stay as much as the hype in 2023.
‘With Justin, you are by no means down and out’
Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts epitomise the brand new period of dual-threat quarterbacks, able to working and passing the ball, which made for an epic match-up as they went head-to-head in final season’s Tremendous Bowl.
Fields, 24, is lower from the identical material, an elusive runner snug with charging out of the pocket when below stress.
Claypool, 25, admired him from afar earlier than turning into his team-mate final November, when the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to commerce him to the Bears.
“I used to be aware of his recreation earlier than however to see it stay on the sphere, being on his crew, was tremendous cool,” he mentioned.
“He could make some superb performs to deliver you proper again into it. With Justin, I might say there’s by no means a scenario the place you are down and out.”
Fields not solely led all quarterbacks for dashing yards final season (1,143), he was seventh total. He additionally had eight dashing touchdowns – three from his personal half. In accordance with statistics, he was the NFL’s most explosive runner.
Nevertheless, Chicago’s report was 3-14 and so they handed for the fewest yards within the league – so some felt Fields is a run-first quarterback who depends an excessive amount of on his legs.
Others argued he had little alternative. No quarterback was sacked extra usually than Fields (55 occasions).
Bears construct round their star man
Regardless of hypothesis Chicago would possibly use the primary decide in this 12 months’s draft to take a brand new quarterback, they traded it for a number of picks and skilled receiver DJ Moore.
That adopted the mid-season addition of Claypool, and the Bears additionally bolstered their defence within the draft and located better safety for Fields, who they chosen eleventh total in 2021.
“We have crammed the gaps we would have liked to fill, and DJ’s going to be an enormous asset,” mentioned Claypool.
“He will open issues up on the offence, permitting massive performs for himself and others.”
After attaining 2,242 passing yards final season, Fields desires to turn out to be the first Chicago quarterback to reach 4,000. He has additionally taken on a better management position.
He is frolicked with Claypool, Moore and Darnell Mooney to construct a better rapport along with his high three receivers. He publicly praised Claypool for the advance he is made this summer season.
“I actually did respect him saying that,” mentioned Claypool. “I am glad he seen it.
“Having the ability to get in a full low season with him, I already know it’ll pay dividends. I believe we have set ourselves up for a very thrilling 12 months.”
It is began properly, with Fields throwing two touchdowns from the three passes he made as Chicago gained their first pre-season recreation. He’s set to characteristic of their second later (00:00 BST).
Can Bears emulate Bengals & Jaguars?
Traditionally, Chicago groups have been famend for his or her defence moderately than their quarterback, such at their NFL champions of 1985.
Gayle was a part of that defence and says the Bears have not had a quarterback like Fields since Bobby Douglass within the Seventies.
“I am not saying it could take a Tremendous Bowl for Fields to be remembered as a result of he’s tremendously gifted,” mentioned the previous security.
“It is only a matter of him getting the best alternative, having the best receivers and defending him in order that he does not must run for his life on a regular basis and get beat up.”
Over the previous three years, the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars have used the draft to show round their fortunes, with younger quarterbacks main them into the play-offs.
With their head coach and common supervisor of their second 12 months with Chicago and Fields their beginning quarterback, the Bears hope to emulate them. Do this and Fields can be in Most Precious Participant competition.
“I believe they’re going to make the play-offs,” Gayle added. “I am glad they stayed the course [with Fields], noticed his potential and constructed on what they’ve.
“I believe this teaching workers will let their finest gamers shine, and I actually consider in Fields at quarterback.”
Watching Fields ‘appointment viewing’
With Fields established because the face of the franchise, the Bears have a star to assist construct their model, at house and overseas.
He and Claypool had been even depicted as tremendous heroes on the facet of a lorry which travelled to 6 UK cities in June as a part of a Bears teaching programme.
They delivered periods to about 2,000 kids from greater than 50 colleges, with Claypool attending a session in London.
“The likes of Justin and Chase are an enormous a part of what we’re doing,” mentioned Scott Hagel, the Bears’ senior vice-president of promoting and communications.
“Thrilling, younger gamers seize the eye of youthful viewers, they need to emulate them and it builds the joy.
“And Justin’s a type of guys the place you’ll be able to by no means look away since you would possibly miss one thing.
“He does issues that solely a handful of gamers can do. Each snap is like ‘what’s he going to do subsequent?’ It is appointment viewing.
“Persons are anxious to see what occurs this 12 months and it begins with a bang, at house in opposition to our rivals from the north (Inexperienced Bay Packers on 10 September). It is going to be a enjoyable 12 months.”