Bears ought to observe Eagles’ blueprint to set Justin Fields up for fulfillment

When the Philadelphia Eagles arrive at Soldier Field in Week 15, we should have a good idea of ​​where the Bears’ rebuild stands under coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles.

The hope is that after 14 weeks, Justin Fields will have cemented himself as a franchise quarterback and Eberflus will have acquitted himself well as a leader and tactician.

In Week 15, the Bears should take a hard look at the roster Howie Roseman built around quarterback Jalen Hurts. A roster that got even better Wednesday when Philadelphia signed cornerback James Bradberry to a one-year, $10 million contract.

Roseman has rebuilt the Eagles on the fly in two years, and it’s a blueprint the Bears can try and follow starting next offseason.

At the end of the 2020 season, the Eagles fired a Super Bowl-winning coach in Doug Pederson, took a massive dead cap hit by washing their hands of Carson Wentz, and had a roster with several holes.

The Eagles liked Hurts but weren’t sure he was the long-term answer. But rather than judging Hurts based on his brief rookie-year stint with Greg Ward, Jalen Reagor, and Quez Watkins as his top receivers, the Eagles went to work to improve the situation around Hurts.

The idea was simple: Upgrade the roster across the board and give Hurts the best chance to prove he’s a franchise QB. If he succeeds, the Eagles have their man and a talented roster. If he doesn’t, they have a ready-to-win roster that will be attractive to any top QB looking for a change of scenery.

Roseman’s first big swing actually game in the offseason before the 2020 season when he acquired Darius Slay from the Detroit Lions to give his secondary an elite cover corner.

After going 4-11-1 in 2020, the holes in the Eagles’ roster were evident, as was the path forward.

Philadelphia had key veterans to build around in center Jason Kelce, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, edge rusher Brandon Graham and tackle Lane Johnson. The secondary, outside of Slay, was a mess. Other than tight end Dallas Goedert, the skill positions were an ugly sight. The offensive line and linebacking corps were good but needed a boost.

Roseman signed veteran safety Anthony Harris to give the secondary a stabilizer in the back end. Then, he made a series of draft trades that ultimately ended with the Eagles selecting wide receiver DeVonta Smith Jr. and offensive lineman Landon Dickerson.

Roseman also acquired a 2022 first-round pick from the Miami Dolphins and a conditional first-round pick from the Indianapolis Colts in the Wentz trade.

After a few early growing pains under first-time head coach Nick Sirianni, the Eagles went from 4-11-1 in 2020 to 9-8 and a wild-card berth in 2021. The offensive line paved the way for the NFL’s top rushing attack, Smith gave Hurts a clear No. 1 receiver, and the defense was trending upward.

The Eagles were pasted by the Tampa Bay Bucs in the NFC Wild Card Round, but things clearly were headed in the right direction. Hurts had his moments in his first full season as a starter. He threw for 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns while also rushing for 784 yards and 10 scores.

Hurts didn’t cement himself as a franchise QB, but he did enough to allow Roseman to focus on rounding out the roster around him this offseason.

The big move was the 2022 NFL Draft-day trade for AJ Brown. The addition of Brown allows the Eagles to move Smith to the No. 2 spot and gives Hurts a solid arsenal of offensive weapons. But Philadelphia did most of its work on defense. The Eagles signed linebackers Haason Reddick and Kyzir White, drafted Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean, and signed Bradberry on Wednesday, giving them two top corners.

In 18 months, Roseman has transformed the Eagles from NFC East doormat to legitimate Super Bowl threat.

Hurts is still a question mark, but the Eagles have built a roster around him with no gaping holes. He has top-tier targets, a powerful rushing attack, and a solid defense.

The Bears have a bigger hill to climb than the Eagles did.

Eberflus and Poles were given a roster that needed to be torn down to the studs. But good veteran players like Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson, and Robert Quinn remain. Chicago has good running backs and should have a young, talented secondary with the additions of Brisker and Gordon.

The Bears are slated to have $112 million in cap room next offseason and likely will have a top-10 draft pick.

Should Fields exit the 2021 season with his confidence intact and on an upward trend, the Bears need to follow the Eagles’ model and give Fields a fair chance to prove he can be a franchise quarterback.

The Eagles could have ripped everything down following the 2020 season, traded away their veterans, and put Hurts in a no-win situation. Instead, Roseman saw the potential for a quick reboot around a raw but talented quarterback, knowing that Philadelphia would be in a good place even if Hurts failed.

The blueprint is there for the Bears to do the same starting next offseason. It would behoove them to pay close attention to the other sideline come Week 15. It might just be their quickest path back to relevancy.

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