Bears News: Poles addresses improved offense, potentially adding an edge rusher

Bears News: Poles addresses improved offense, potentially adding an edge rusher

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - Training camp started up for the Chicago Bears on Wednesday, July 26. General manager Ryan Poles has high hopes for their progress during camp and in the upcoming season.

“I think great teams have high expectations, and they go chase that, and that’s what we’re going to do, and we’re going to do that in training camp,” Poles explained. “So right now, our focus is hitting training camp, continuing to improve our players as individuals and then the units in terms of the communication and working together so that we can have success during the fall.”

Last season, they had their worst winning percentage since the 1969 season when they only won one game. It was also the first time since 2017 that the Bears finished last in the division. However, following the 2017 season, the Bears were first in the division in 2018 and were the No. 3 seed in the conference. So, there is hope for the Chicago Bears to be the division champs once again. Besides, that is always the goal for Poles and the rest of the Bears.

“Our goal is always to win the division and be a championship-caliber team. That standard’s always going to be there,” Poles stated. “I would even say, like, I think every year, regardless if you’re a Super Bowl team or wherever you’re at, there’s a lot of unknowns. So that’s what makes our job really hard is you constantly have to adapt and adjust and be on your toes to make adjustments and try to be the absolute best that you can possibly be.”

One thing that was constant last year was the elite play from Justin Fields in the running game. His 1,143 rushing yards is the second-highest for a quarterback in the history of the NFL. Furthermore, he is the first player since quarterback Bobby Douglass in 1972 to lead the Bears in passing and rushing. Fields is also ranked as the top overall player on the Bears in 2023, according to Pro Football Reference.

In addition, he also ranks No. 20 overall in Bears history for career passing yards. Still, Poles and the coaching staff have identified areas of improvement for Fields, primarily in situational performance.

“What he did with his legs was outstanding,” Poles said. “In the past (season), look at the different scenarios, situations, two-minute and continue to improve that.”

Besides the acquisition of wide receiver DJ Moore, another thing that is sure to benefit Fields in the upcoming season is the return of receiver Darnell Mooney. After suffering a fractured ankle in Week 12 and missing the rest of the season, Mooney is ready for training camp, but Poles does not want to rush anything with Mooney to ensure that he is ready for the beginning of the season.

“He’s worked his butt off with our training staff. Obviously, he’s cleared to be a participant in practice, and like I said, what we’re going to do is we’re going to use our data. We’re going to use our performance staff to monitor where he’s at,” Poles explained. “We’re going to make sure that we have the right plan so that he’s not pushing it too fast, but we’re also not going to go too slow either. We’re just going to make sure it’s right for him as an individual plan, to make sure by the time we get to the season, he’s rolling.”

All of these pieces, plus numerous other additions in the offseason, are helping to put the Bears back in contention for the division and the playoffs. Poles made sure to strategically spend Chicago’s $120 million in cap space to get quality players now and make sure they are here for the future.

“When you look at the big picture, building through the draft, supplementing through free agency, I think making sure that your decisions that you’re making are sound for where we are right now and not putting us in a position where it damages some of the work that we’ve done and the path that we’ve kind of set up for ourselves moving forward,” Poles said.

However, that does not mean the Bears are done getting players. According to Spotrac, they still have nearly $28 million in cap space left, more than any other NFL team. While this can be used for contract extensions, like that of Cole Kmet, Poles is not ruling out the possibility of adding an edge rusher.

“There’s guys that we have high expectations for that are on our football team that we hope to develop and take that role, but at the same time, we’re always going to search to improve our roster,” Poles stated. “So, if it’s a defensive end or any position that we think can enhance our team, we’re going to stay after them and stay engaged and see if we can improve our team that way.”

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