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4 things we learned from Bears GM Ryan Poles

Bears general manager Ryan Poles
Bears general manager Ryan Poles

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Bears general manager Ryan Poles spoke to the media before Monday night's game in New England. Here are four things we learned from that session:

(1) Poles likes the strides that quarterback Justin Fields has been making.

"We're encouraged with the progress that is there," Poles said. "It's not on the statistics and on the paper all the time, but he is getting better in a lot of different areas."

Poles has been particularly impressed with the impact plays that Fields has produced, most notably a 40-yard touchdown pass to receiver Dante Pettis in the Bears' most recent game Oct. 13 against the Commanders. Fields realized that the Bears had a free play because Washington had too many defenders on the field and heaved the ball deep where only Pettis could catch it.

"I think I talked about this a while ago, but with young players you're looking for the flashes," Poles said. "And I think he has shown the flashes of getting the ball out on time, being accurate, some of the deep shots—like even the one to Pettis was incredible. So continuing to do those things, that's what we're looking for."

Poles acknowledged that the players surrounding Fields on offense need to improve, saying: "I think as a whole we've got to continue to play better around him as well to allow him to keep playing well and get his confidence going and execute at a high level."

Poles revealed that there will be different factors involved in evaluating Fields as the season progresses.

"Are we putting him in position where he can be successful?" Poles said. "And then the execution and the details of what he's being asked to do and really speeding up to the game and making decisions quicker. But again, the beautiful thing about football, it's reliant on everybody else. As a whole we have to improve, and I think we'll see that everyone's stats will get better and then we'll start to ascend."

(2) Poles was pleased with the work that was done with coach Matt Eberflus and his staff during the Bears' recent mini-bye.

"Clearly, Matt and I are on the same page in terms of competing to win games," Poles said. "We've come up short a few times and to us that's a little bit of having a young team that needs to learn how to finish in the red zone and win games and do the things that we're hoping to do.

"What I was really encouraged about was how we handled this mini-bye. I think regardless of your record, the ability to look in the mirror and see what we do well, what did we not do well, what we have we struggled with and then attack those things. Our coaches met with the players, we met with the coordinators and just talked about that exactly, and then what's the plan to improve and take the next step? The work that was put in this week was incredible, making some adjustments to get guys in positions to be successful and do better and hopefully win some games."

Poles lauded the detail involved in the process, saying: "We took a lot of time meeting. There were reports on every single player, and the coordinators did reports on their schemes and the strengths and weaknesses and trends."

Poles also praised Eberflus.

"He's incredible," Poles said. "His ability to self-assess over this past week and get the staff together and keep the team gelled together, that's what you worry about with any team is when you lose, you don't want things to fracture and this team is tighter than it's ever been, believing in each other and finding ways to win games moving forward."

(3) Poles has been impressed with the progress that rookie second-round defensive backs Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker have made of late.

Gordon has registered 16 tackles and one pass breakup in the last two games, while Brisker has recorded his first two NFL sacks in the last three contests and ranks fifth on the Bears with 35 tackles.

"I think Kyler's getting better every single week," Poles said. "I thought the last game was probably his best game so far. We put a lot on his plate playing inside and outside and that takes a lot of mental toughness. Especially playing DB in this league, it's a grind. There's a lot of space to cover, so he's doing good and will continue to improve; I truly believe in that.

"And then Brisker's been doing a good job too. I've been expecting him to make some plays on the ball and I think that's going to come as well. But his ability to tackle and come in and fill and help our defense become physical, I think he's done a good job too."

(4) Each of the Bears' last three losses have been by one score. Poles feels that the key to getting over the hump is learning how to finish.

"There's been a lot of games where we're knocking on the door to win games," Poles said. "The next step is learning how to finish, and I think you all know from watching on Sundays, there are teams that know how to come back from deficits. There's characteristics of teams; finishing is one of those things. We really need to take that next step, but we're at the door."

Asked how teams learn how to finish, Poles said: "It's detail in their work. Just being very specific, being exactly where you're supposed to be. I know coach [Eberflus] is big on technique. That's one thing they hammered this week. I believe in that, too, just from my time playing: if you can dial in on technique, all the other little stuff comes after that."