McGraw: Fields trade feels like same old broken ride for Bears

Being a lifelong Bears fan can feel like being locked onto a defective carnival ride.

The Carousel of Scapegoats just keeps on spinning, with no end in sight.

The speed at which this ride travels defies physics. It changes direction frequently without warning. Let's relive some recent twists and turns.

2018: Bears made a home run hire with Matt Nagy going 12-4 in his initial season.

2021: Nagy can't coach and needs to leave as soon as possible.

2021: The rest of the NFL is envious of the Bears because Justin Fields is the next superstar.

2024: Fields clearly isn't good enough and it's time to move on.

Needless to say, Caleb Williams, assuming he's the next Bears QB, will be locked into his seat soon enough. Don't expect anyone to walk past and check the safety restraints. Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles will be sitting right behind him.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles, left, speaks with Carl Williams, father of Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, whom the team is expected to select with the No. 1 overall pick. Associated Press

Williams deserves to hit town with the benefit of the doubt, and there's been some hype about how he'll have a better set of receivers, in D.J. Moore and new addition Keenan Allen, than virtually any rookie quarterback in NFL history.

But this is the Bears and QB development has never been a strength of the franchise. When one imagines a future playoff scenario, Fields running for 8 first downs in an 18-17 victory at frosty Soldier Field seems more feasible than the Bears turning Williams into the next Patrick Mahomes.

And hyping Williams' improved supporting cast also emphasizes how much less Fields had to work with. Speaking to reporters Monday at the NFL meetings, Poles tried to bypass this being a Fields vs. Williams decision and added the salary cap as a factor. Williams being on a rookie contract should allow the Bears to build a better team around him.

At the same time, if Carolina went 7-10 instead of 2-15, would the Bears be giving Fields a contract extension promise or hoping J.J. McCarthy falls to them in the draft? Instead, Fields is now Russell Wilson's heir apparent in Pittsburgh.

Anyway, it's interesting to look at the team's history of scapegoats. A good place to start would be the firing of general manager Jerry Vainisi in January 1987. This was essentially the first big move following the death of George Halas in 1983, which passed the team to the McCaskey family.

Whether Vainisi was let go because of the Doug Flutie playoff fiasco or due to personality conflicts doesn't really matter. As the Super Bowl team faded away, Mike Ditka and player personnel director Bill Tobin took the fall a few years later.

Jim Harbaugh took a turn as Bears scapegoat. Those interceptions were his fault, not the linemen who barely laid a finger on Chris Doleman racing around the edge.

Dave Wannstedt might have had a more successful run as head coach, but the Bears tried to save money by giving him control of personnel as well. Wanny was an OK coach, but few people are cut out to do both jobs. His tenure ended in familiar fashion.

Skipping forward a few years, the Bears even created a scapegoat where none was needed, firing Lovie Smith after a 10-6 season in 2012. Then they spent a few years struggling to match up the coach and GM switches.

A concluding paragraph seems almost unnecessary here. The constant along this timeline is the McCaskey family, whether it was Mike or George sitting in the president's chair. Remember when Poles and Eberflus were hired, one goal was to get the most out of Fields' unique skillset.

So when Williams or whoever else moves to town and steps behind the Bears' offensive line, please have some understanding. The next QB will be climbing onto a dangerous ride.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.