offseason of unrelenting and sometimes suffocating debate that has even fans who grew up with the internet longing for the days when there was no internet, shows no signs of letting up.
On the quietest weekend of the NFL calendar — the Sunday before the Super Bowl — the Raiders threw another log into a raging brushfire of Bears quarterback debate with the reported imminent hiring of former Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy as their offensive coordinator.
Multiple reports indicated the Raiders are nearing a deal to sign Getsy after former Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury dropped out of consideration. Getsy was one of five candidates to be interviewed for the job, along with Kingsbury, UCLA coach Chip Kelly, former Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt (who was hired by the Patriots on Thursday) and Steelers receivers coach Mike Sullivan.
The anticipated Getsy hire adds another layer of intrigue to Justin Fields’ future, stoking speculation that with Getsy as the coordinator, the Raiders are another potential trade partner for the Bears if general manager Ryan Poles selects USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
And it also adds some interesting fuel to the debate over the culpability for Fields’ underwhelming growth and the Bears’ offensive issues in Getsy’s two seasons as offensive coordinator.
The Bears fired Getsy on Jan. 10,
with coach Matt Eberflus making it clear he needed to see more. ”The growth and the development of the offense needed to be better than what it was,” Eberflus said.
And many Bears fans — the most vocal ones, anyway — blamed Getsy for hindering the development of a quarterback with exceptional athletic skills by not playing to his strengths, not giving him enough protection and being an inconsistent, if not out-and-out poor, play-caller — among many other grievances.
The league doesn’t whole-heartedly agree with that assessment. Getsy had multiple interviews with the Saints and at least one interview with the Patriots for their offensive coordinator job. And the Raiders actually hired him.
The Raiders did have a front-row seat to a Getsy high-point — when undrafted free agent Tyson Bagent, making his first NFL start, efficiently guided the Bears to a 30-19 victory over the Raiders at Soldier Field. But, while the Getsy firing was almost unanimous in Chicago, that wasn’t Getsy’s only highlight.
In Getsy’s second season, the Bears were second in the NFL in rushing. They improved from 23rd to 18th in scoring and from 28th to 20th in yards. They won two games with Bagent starting. They were in the upper half of the NFL in two important categories — third-down conversions (12th) and red-zone touchdown percentage (13th).
On the other hand, while the Bears’ offense made progress under Getsy, it wasn’t enough and it wasn’t quickly enough. The Bears were 27th in passing yards. Fields’ 86.3 passer rating was 21st among quarterbacks with eight or more starts. His QBR, a measurement that includes his rushing yardage, dropped from 56.3 in 2022 to 46.1 in 2023. And Fields was dogged by the same issues at the end of the season as the beginning. Fields and Bagent combined were starkly worse in the fourth quarter (45.1 rating as the starter) than in the first three quarters (95.5).
So while the 39-year-old Getsy gets a chance to prove the Fields supporters wrong with the Raiders, the Bears are hoping for an upgrade with Shane Waldron as their offensive coordinator.
Waldron comes to Chicago with three things on his resume in his favor: a history of being hired by successful coaches (Bill Belichick, Sean McVay, Pete Carroll); three seasons as a play-caller with the Seahawks; and — last but not least — as the guy who made a quarterback out of Geno Smith, an NFL journeyman who blossomed at 32 in Waldron’s offense.
“He just allowed me to be me — that was the biggest part,” Smith said Saturday at the Pro Bowl Games in Orlando. “He focused on my strengths and minimized my weaknesses.”
That sounds like just what the Bears need — whether they stick with Fields or draft a quarterback.
“He’s a perfectionist,” Smith said. “Hard worker. He loves ball. I mean, he really loves football. He’s going to sacrifice everything that he has to make sure the quarterbacks, the offense and the team is gonna be good. He’s gonna win a lot of games.”