The Eagles’ victory is bound to dominate discussions within Bears circles today, primarily because of the outstanding performance by Philadelphia’s rookie defensive tackle, Jalen Carter. Carter’s remarkable showing included a half-sack, one quarterback hit, and two forced fumbles. It’s worth noting that we are just three games into Carter’s career, and if he maintains this pace, he could achieve astonishing numbers over a 17-game stretch—8 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, and 11 forced fumbles. These statistics are akin to something you’d encounter in a video game, and they would undoubtedly bolster the Bears’ defense, which is currently in dire need of such contributions. Nevertheless, I’m refraining from engaging in the speculative game of “what could have been,” a sentiment that many are currently indulging in.
It’s truly incredible that Chicago opted not to draft Carter with the ninth pick, instead trading spots with Philadelphia, who gladly seized the opportunity. The Eagles appeared well-prepared to handle any potential challenges that might arise from Carter’s selection. (Additionally, I can’t simply overlook his off-the-field issues, a lackluster pro day performance, and the reluctance of his own coaches to vouch for him. It’s understandable why a team like the Bears would pass on such a situation, and it’s worth noting that eight other teams did the same.) Meanwhile, the Bears appear ill-equipped to navigate such situations. Head Coach Matt Eberflus seems to be in over his head, and if you believe this regime is mishandling Justin Fields, what reason is there to believe that Carter’s journey would be any different?
Furthermore, it’s worth considering that if the Bears had drafted Jalen Carter, we might now be in a similar predicament, but with Darnell Wright’s name instead of Carter’s. We’d be lamenting the fact that the Bears didn’t prioritize an offensive lineman, and we’d be grappling with the challenge of evaluating a quarterback playing behind a makeshift offensive line. In essence, we’d still be grappling with a mess—it would just be in a different context.
The irony is not lost on me that Chicago passed on both Carter and George Pickens (who reportedly raised some “red flags” that deterred coaches) due to potential character concerns and culture compatibility, when the Bears themselves are grappling with cultural issues. At some point, as a collective, we must address why the culture at Halas Hall consistently appears to be problematic. This is simply unacceptable for a charter franchise.