The Chicago Bears made major moves throughout the 2023 offseason in order to help overhaul their offense around star quarterback Justin Fields. Fields exploded as a playmaker in 2022, leading all quarterbacks in rushing yards and showing growth as a passer. This season, the Bears look to take the next step in their rebuild.
We dive into the Bears’ quarterback depth chart and project who will back up Fields in 2023.
Chicago Bears QB Depth Chart
Chicago had the chance to pivot away from Fields as the face of their franchise but opted against using the No. 1 overall pick to replace him. Instead, the Bears surrounded Fields with more talent, adding star wide receiver DJ Moore in a trade down from No. 1, then added right tackle Darnell Wright to help protect him. Chicago also signed right guard Nate Davis and running back D’Onta Foreman in free agency.
Fields said he’s benefitting from entering Year 2 in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s scheme, and “it’s truly amazing” to feel more in control of what he’s doing. Getsy echoed Fields’ sentiments, noting he’s “light-years ahead” of last year after putting so much work in to improve. The stage is set for a leap from Fields.
Though his raw passing numbers weren’t overly impressive — completing 60.7% of passes for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions put Fields towards the bottom of QB production — Fields clearly wasn’t working with as much as his peers. He took on playmaking duties midway through the year, becoming the first NFL quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns.
There were plenty of positives to build around with an improved set of playmakers around Fields. He ranked seventh in red-zone completion percentage, 12th in completion percentage vs. zone, and 17th in QBR. He’ll have to improve against man coverage and play within structure more effectively, but Moore and a healthy Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool can assist there as well.
Will P.J. Walker or Nathan Peterman Back Up Fields?
Fields missed two starts last year and parts of other contests due to injuries, making it important for the Bears to invest in a better backup than Trevor Siemian. Chicago signed former Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker to a two-year, $4 million deal, with the first year guaranteed.
Walker had previously spent one season with the Indianapolis Colts when current Bears head coach Matt Eberflus was the defensive coordinator. After signing with Chicago, Walker said he was “super excited” to join Eberflus’ team because he thought the coach was “a great person.” Of course, Walker also played with Moore and Foreman in Carolina as well.
Through three seasons with Carolina, Walker completed 57.5% of passes for 1,461 yards, five touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He’s a good runner, and his numbers don’t necessarily represent the level of a passer he is. Though Walker is underqualified to start, he helped Carolina win four of the seven games he started.
He’ll certainly have a leg up on Nathan Peterman. Peterman played in three games last year, starting one. It’s incredible he’s even still in the NFL after an atrocious start to his career in Buffalo. In four starts and eight games played in his first two seasons, Peterman had 12 interceptions to only three touchdowns, completing 52.3% of his passes.
Peterman didn’t play much better with Chicago last year. With a career completion rate of 53.1% and a QB rating of 39.4, the Bears should be looking to upgrade their third quarterback through training camp.