Contrary to what some believe, Bears coach Matt Eberflus has a strong belief in Justin Fields' ability and the draft is going to be about getting him help.
At least this is what Eberflus told Sunday Night Football's Cris Collinsworth on a podcast.
It's been suggested this came at the expense of getting quality wide receivers in free agency, but Eberflus believes he and Ryan Poles have stressed the importance of the offensive line in free agency and as they approach the draft.
Their goal is giving Fields a way to operate the team well into the future by building a foundation for future success rather than throwing a few dollars at a receiver or two.
"I think Ryan and I are really clear on our vision for the football team," Eberflus told Collinworth. "You know, we believe—you know he's an ex-offensive lineman—so we believe in the line play. We think that it starts up front and we believe in that. We believe in the physical punch that it takes from the offensive line, running off the ball. And the same thing on defense.
"So that's going to be a very important part to us in terms of determining who we are and what our identity is as a football team. And so we're in line with that and we are going to do what's best for the football team for this year but also into the future. You know, make sure we're setting ourselves up for the future."
This idea of sustained success by building a foundation seems important to this Bears regime, which is in direct contrast to what happened with the last regime.
"We have a young quarterback, we have a young offense, we have a lot of young pieces on our football team and we want to make sure we're doing it right not only for this year to win a lot of football games and to take the team as far as we can, you know, and all the way but also into the future so that we have sustained success going into next year and the year after that," Eberflus said.
That being said, Eberflus definitely wasn't tipping off they are committing to drafting an offensive lineman first. However, you just got the feeling it's going to come somewhere in those first three picks the Bears have within the top 71.
"I think we're in a good spot," Eberflus said. "We've set ourselves up very nice in terms of free agency to be able to take the best player available. And that's really what we want to do. We want to take the best player available that's there on the board for us and we've put ourselves in position to be able to do that."
Some might question this on the line considering one attempt to secure a starting right guard failed when they couldn't steal restricted free agent Ryan Bates from Buffalo.
The other offensive linemen they brought in are center Lucas Patrick from the Packers and a 30-year-old player who has been a backup except for one season of his career, former Viking Dakota Dozier. There is one gaping hole at starting right guard, not to mention great inexperience at tackle.
Coaching them up is Eberflus' answer to this.
"We love Chris Morgan, our offensive line coach," Eberflus told Collinsworth. "He's done a great job of teaching these guys. He's been in that system. He was with Kyle (Shanahan) back in Atlanta, back when they went to the Super Bowl. He understands how to run that system and the protections that are involved with that."
Where this all leads is to better protection for Fields, who has been learning the offense since the team started conditioning work April 4.
"I think he's in a great spot," Eberflus told Colinsworth. "You know, we've had these meetings for a week and a half now and he's been meeting with the offensive staff and he feels very comfortable in this offense.
"This is a rhythm-and-timing offense. It's based in the west coast system which he is very familiar with. And I think it's going to be very quarterback-friendly for him."
Eberflus seems to think the offense can help do what Matt Nagy's attack did not, and get the ball out of his young QB's hand faster.
"You can see the way it's coached, the rhythm and timing of it, of the passing game, is really going to help him to understand when to get rid of the ball, what his progressions are," Eberflus said. "He's going to have a clear understanding of what the offense is and he's really doing a good job right now of grasping that and helping teach it to the other players, as well."
About the only bit of discussion Eberflus had regarding receivers was when asked whether they would have reservations taking a player who has an ACL tear if they're top-15 material in the draft.
The player being mentioned was Alabama receiver Jameson Williams, although teammate John Metchie III also had an ACL tear and is likely to be available to the Bears in Round 2 if not Round 3, as well. But this discussion was about top-15 players and Metchie wouldn't fit in that category while Williams would.
"I believe that you can get a good player that way a little bit late," Eberflus said. "You just are goonig to have to wait. You're going to have to wait a little bit for this player but if you're getting an "A" player that's potentiall a top—let's just call it top-15 pick—and you get him later becauase of the injury and you know with the way the ACLs and the way they do surgery now and they way these guys come back on these things and you're going to get a grade-A player, a top-15 player, I would say if your medical staff feels comfortable with it and your coaching staff feels comfortable with it, I'd say you take a swing at it and there's nothing wrong with it."
It's a moot point most likely for the Bears, as at would seem sometime between the middle of Round 1 and the 39th pick where the Bears start, another team will decide it's also fine to draft a top wide receiver they would need to wait on while he rehabs from knee surgery.