Let's keep the quarterback debate civil, Bears fans

Arizona Cardinals v Chicago Bears
Arizona Cardinals v Chicago Bears / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

With only two weeks left in the season, the Chicago Bears have approximately a 1% chance to reach the playoffs. While this is better than being eliminated already, let's just say that Bears fans probably don't need to sock away any money for a flight and playoff tickets.

The team has played well in the second half of the season, winning four of six games on the back of a transformed defense that is looking more like the fearsome units of yesteryear and less like the bend-and-do-break defenses that we've watched for much of the past decade.

With a young roster, oodles of cap space, and the ability to dictate the direction of the 2024 draft, it's fair to say that the future is bright in Chicago. Judging by many of the interactions seen online from Bears fans, though, you might not be able to tell. That's because the debate between the Bears keeping Justin Fields or drafting USC quarterback Caleb Williams is bordering on unhealthy, and there are still nearly four months to go until the draft.

Reasonable minds should be able to agree that there are compelling arguments for and against each potential pathway the Bears might take. Online discourse has never been known as reasonable, though, and the discussion has turned toxic as each faction of the fanbase tries to tear the other down.

Newsflash: you don't need to trash Justin Fields if you believe the Bears should draft Caleb Williams, and you don't need to trash Caleb Williams if you believe the Bears should stick with Justin Fields.

Let me be honest and upfront about my preference. I acknowledge that Justin Fields has areas of his game that need work, but I wholeheartedly believe the Bears should replace Luke Getsy and give Fields a chance to show everyone what he can do with better coaching and a full complement of weapons in 2024.

That's not to say I'm out on Williams. The Sooner-turned-Trojan is a special prospect with tantalizing upside, and his highlight tape, even from this year alone, is bursting with amazing plays that few quarterbacks could make. If the Bears trade Fields and draft Williams, yes I will be bummed, and I'll be rooting for Fields wherever he goes, but at the end of the day, I'll still always be a Bears fan. It won't be difficult to talk myself into giving the Caleb Williams era a chance.

I don't feel like I'm being heroic in my even-mindedness when it comes to Fields vs. Williams, but I don't see a lot of similar sentiment online. It's usually true though that the worst people are also the loudest. Those who want to draft Williams have fair criticisms of Field, such as that he needs to protect the ball better, or that he sometimes waits too long in the pocket before getting through his progressions.

There are also plenty of unfair criticisms, such as blaming Fields for all of the offense's struggles without spreading more of the blame to the Bears' lack of a #2 receiver, Luke Getsy's playcalling, or an offensive line that has rarely been healthy at the same time.

I've seen other criticisms of Fields that are even worse like he doesn't play with fire and shows no emotion when things go bad. That's called being a pro. Personally, I like having a quarterback who acts like a professional and doesn't throw his helmet when things aren't going right. From every story we've heard from teammates, Fields is an example on and off the field of how to work and conduct yourself. If Fields displayed the petulance of Jay Cutler, something tells me those same fans wouldn't like that either.

There are fair criticisms of Williams also. On average, he takes a ton of time before throwing the ball, but to be fair, that ability to keep a play alive has led to some of his most breathtaking moments. At 6'1", he doesn't possess the ideal size for a quarterback, but being four inches taller is no guarantee of success, especially in the modern NFL, anyway.

USC may have been the most disappointing team in the country this year, but that's because their defense couldn't stop a nosebleed. I imagine the pressure of needing to score 50 points every time out was a lot to handle for Williams, and in most games, he lit up the scoreboard, too. Militant Fields truthers have taken to criticizing Williams for crying in the stands with his family after USC lost to Washington, or for even sillier things like painting his nails. None of these things matter, and anyone using them in their argument isn't doing so in good faith.

Let's all take a deep breath and compose ourselves, because four months of this kind of chatter is going to get really old, really fast. There's a lot to like about Fields, and a lot to like about Williams, but there are also fair reasons to question them both, plus many other things to factor into this all-important decision. While it can (and should) be fun to debate which direction the Bears should go, ultimately, the choice will rest with General Manager Ryan Poles and the rest of the front office and coaching staff.


Choosing between Fields and Williams is a good problem to have, and I trust Poles to steer this franchise back to its rightful place as one of the proudest in the NFL. So let's not let this quarterback debate tear us apart, Bears fans. Keep it civil, and bear down.