In his quest to rebuild the Bears, Ryan Poles believes 'you can feel the needle moving'


LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- By design, the Bears’ home of Halas Hall is in a secluded location. It’s tucked away at the end of a business park and surrounded by a forest preserve, keeping the team out of the public eye.

Inside the facility, there are few televisions tuned in to what NFL pundits are saying. Players are encouraged to block out or ignore what’s being said about them. Team executives and coaches make a point to avoid the public pressure of their jobs. Despite their best efforts, this Bears team is still keenly aware of what’s being said by outside observers.

There’s a belief the Bears will be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season. First-year general manager Ryan Poles has heard the outside noise, including the notion that he hasn’t positioned second-year quarterback Justin Fields for success and the idea that Chicago is tanking and won’t be competitive in 2022.

But as the Bears have put in their work this offseason, Poles carries a belief that his plan forward is working.

“You can feel the needle moving,” Poles said. “Just in terms of where we’re approaching how we play the game of football.”

Since being hired as the Bears' new general manager in late January, Poles brought in head coach Matt Eberflus, began implementing a new culture and overhauled a considerable portion of the roster he inherited. As of Thursday afternoon, only 21 players remained on the roster from the era of former general manager Ryan Pace.

The Bears who remain from the previous regime were asked to commit to Eberflus’ vision for the team, and the players who bought in are feeling the difference from last season.

“That complacency was a big part,” safety Eddie Jackson said. “Knowing the type of guys we had, like, we didn’t have to go the extra mile, compared to now, to see the work we’ve put in, how we’ve worked, how we’ve trained, how we’ve approached this thing, it’s a different mentality. It's a whole different mentality.

“You see all that, ‘Worst team in the league, worst secondary in the league.’ Man, we hear all of it. It's fuel to the fire. I’m so pumped up because I just know the type of year we’re going to have. We're going to shock a lot of people.”

Ultimately, that motivation is a key piece of what Poles and Eberflus hope drives the Bears this season. Whether the Bears are successful in 2022 won’t be entirely decided by wins and losses. They have the benefit of a patient boss in chairman George McCaskey and hope to set a foundation this season.

The Bears have a young roster that likely needs multiple years before it achieves sustained success. The Bears need time to develop the players under contract while Poles and his brass continue to bring in their own personnel.

Poles believes that Fields will emerge, that the offensive line will develop into a strength, that Eberflus will create a tough defensive identity and that -- in due time -- the Bears will become the team to beat in the NFC North.

Challenges are inevitable during the course of a season and in a rebuild, but the Bears believe there’s something special ahead. And they don’t care what’s being said about them.

“As an organization, as a team, as a locker room, as a staff, just be resilient through the ups and downs,” Poles said. “And just continuing to fight and have that arrow pointing up.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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