Bears OC believes offense will suit whoever ends up at QB

ByCourtney Cronin ESPN logo
Thursday, February 22, 2024

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Even before knowing which direction the Chicago Bears will go at quarterback in 2024, new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron is confident his scheme will fit Justin Fields,a rookie or whoever might end up as the team's QB this offseason.

"Yeah, I totally believe that," Waldron said during his introductory news conference on Thursday. "I think in the past experiences with different quarterbacks, different experience levels, whether I was in the coordinator role or in a role as a position coach, I felt that way.

"I felt different quarterbacks have been able to step foot into the system, be able to learn it quickly, and that starts with us being able to teach it in a good and efficient manner where they understand it."

Waldron, 44, was hired by the Bears in January after spending three seasons as Seattle's offensive coordinator. According to coach Matt Eberflus, the team interviewed 14 candidates for their offensive and defensive coordinator openings (with nine known interviews for their OC opening), and Waldron was the only coach the Bears interviewed twice.

When asked about how much of his interview centered around his plans for Fields or a college quarterback, Waldron expressed that his plans for the Bears offense revolved around "adaptability." Once the scheme is installed, Waldron said Chicago will be able "adjust the scheme to the player's skill set," including the quarterback.

The unique spot the Bears are in with the first and ninth picks in the draft was appealing to Waldron, who drew interest from New Orleans, New England and Las Vegas for their offensive coordinator openings.

"It's not going to happen too often," Waldron said of the Bears' two first-round picks inside the top 10. "This is that year, and then also the core, the group of players that is already in place on offense, including the quarterback that played at a high level and that displayed the ability to win football games and make plays."

NFL rules prevent coaches from working with players until Phase 1 of offseason workouts, which begin in April. Waldron said he has "exchanged messages" with Fields and has reached out to other players to begin establishing relationships.

The offensive coordinator declined to offer specifics when asked whether he has evaluated Fields and spoke in generalities when asked for his initial impressions on USC quarterback Caleb Williams, the consensus top prospect in the draft.

"My impression of a lot of these quarterbacks, all the college quarterbacks, was, what an unbelievable college season we just came off of with these guys making some of these dynamic plays down the stretch, whether it was leading into the championship games or the bowl games leading up to that, the regular season," Waldron said. "There's multiple quarterbacks that have already performed on the highest stage, in big games and obviously [Williams is] one of them."

During an appearance on the "St. Brown Brothers" podcast Wednesday, Fields expressed a desire for clarity on his NFL future, whether in Chicago or on another team if the Bears choose to trade him.

"I feel like the biggest thing with all of this going on right now is I just want it to be over," Fields said. "Just let me know if I'm going to be traded. Let me know if I'm staying."

And for the record, Fields said "of course I want to stay."

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