Like many moviegoers, I saw Oppenheimer opening weekend. The latest film from Christopher Nolan, the movie was everything I expected it to be: phenomenally written and acted, creative in its use of sound, and visually enthralling. It was an A+ movie experience.
For anyone who knows American history, it was no surprise that the movie centered around the creation of the atomic bomb during World War II. Going into the movie, I and many others knew that at some point, we were going to see that first explosion depicted on screen, but that didn't make it any less incredible to experience.
When I woke up Wednesday morning, I had no idea that a bomb of a different type was about to be dropped on me. Then I visited The Ringer, where I was met with the headline, "What's Wrong With the Bears Offense? Everything."
The Ringer is right about the state of the Chicago Bears
What followed was over 2,000 words of Manhattan Project-level explosive critique from writer Ben Solak on the myriad failings of the Bears. The worst part? I couldn't find fault with any of it. Nobody in the organization was safe from the fallout. Ryan Poles, Matt Eberflus, Luke Getsy, Justin Fields, the offensive line, and the wide receivers were all taken to task.
Even after only two weeks, watching the games on Sunday has been enough to realize that there's something seriously lacking with the Chicago Bears right now.
Solak perfectly summed up the problem by figuring out how to fix what ails the Bears, calling it a four-sided chicken-or-egg conundrum. Is Justin Fields playing poorly because of poor coaching? Or is the offensive line to blame? Are receivers running the wrong routes because Fields doesn't throw it to them when they're open? Or are the coaches implementing a system that doesn't play to the strength of the personnel?
Personally, I've seen enough of this coaching staff. Say what you will about Justin Fields (and there are certainly valid reasons to critique him), but he showed last year that he could be a uniquely successful NFL quarterback. That doesn't just disappear when a guy is 24 years old.
It's obvious that Bears fans, myself included, got ahead of ourselves with our expectations for this year. There are only eight teams that have gone from #1 in the NFL draft to the playoffs the following year. Asking the Bears to jump to the level of the Seahawks and Giants, let alone that of the Eagles and 49ers, with a roster that is still in the bottom five of the NFL in terms of talent, was more than just optimistic, it was unrealistic.
That doesn't mean that what we've seen should be acceptable, and as Solak's article shows, it's not just Bears fans that have taken notice. The Bears are at risk of becoming the laughingstock of the league if something doesn't change, and let's face it, this organization isn't known for taking swift action.
The rebuild that Ryan Poles is attempting is a multi-year project. The Bears are extremely well-positioned for next year's draft, and they are near the league lead in salary cap space. You can take issue with some of the short-term decisions Poles has made, but long-term, there is a clear path to improve.
So much of this will come down to Justin Fields. If Poles decides that Fields can't be the player that can take the team to the promised land, it will set the franchise back once again, as he'll need to use one of next year's top picks on a quarterback instead of addressing one of the team's many other needs.
Poles already brought in D.J. Moore, a real #1 receiver. He re-signed Cole Kmet, a quality tight end with room to grow. Not every move has been great (I'm looking at you, Chase Claypool), but the effort has been there to provide Fields with weapons.
Poles needs to decide between now and draft day if he wants to hitch his wagon to Justin Fields, and the only move left to make to that end is to shake up the coaching staff. Solak points out that the list of NFL head coaches that have presided over 12-game losing streaks is like a who's who of guys that never found NFL success, but I don't expect Matt Eberflus to be shown the door in the first month of his second season, even if it's not at all clear what he's bringing to the table.
Still, something has to change to fix this mushroom cloud of a season. Luke Getsy is the obvious choice to get the boot. Not only are his play calls ill-designed to take advantage of Justin Fields' skill set, as Solak points out, the offense is poorly coached in every way, from missed assignments, to lack of effort, to inexplicable play calls.
Just as Oppenheimer had to race to build the bomb before the Germans, the Bears must waste no time in defusing this bomb of their own making. Move too slowly, and another season will blow up in their face. Oppenheimer is quoted as saying, "Any man whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a man." I speak for all Bears fans when I say to Ryan Poles, we don't have that kind of time.