Marcedes Lewis backs Justin Fields, Luke Getsy as pivotal Bears offseason begins

Marcedes Lewis backs Justin Fields, Luke Getsy as pivotal Bears offseason begins originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Marcedes Lewis knew what he signed up for when he joined the Bears in training camp. The 18-year veteran tight end was aware the Bears were still on the ground floor of a rebuild and that it would take time for a young team to find its way.

The Bears brought Lewis in to help shepherd that growth. It was a lengthy process, one that saw the Bears start 0-4 and presented an early opportunity to throw in the towel on the season.

They didn't. The leaders kept the group together, and eventually, the Bears saw the fruits of their labor, finishing the season going 7-6 in their final 13 games.

Lewis has seen it all in the NFL and feels like he has a good gauge of where this Bears team is headed despite a deflating 17-9 season-ending loss at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

"We got better. We got better every day, and it was something that I was saying when I first got here: Before you can win on Sunday, you’ve got to get better every day," Lewis said Monday at Halas Hall during locker cleanout. "Monday through Saturday is huge. What you bring, to not just the field but in the building, that’s important, and being able to stack that. I just feel like there were plenty of reasons to maybe throw it, throw the season, and we just had more reasons not to. It’s about turning this thing around. I understood when I came here that it was going to take some time, and I think that was one of the things that fired me up about being here is being a part of something to intentionally be great. I feel like the arrow is pointing up."

The soon-to-be 40-year-old credited the locker room culture as reason for the turnaround. Lewis said the Bears have a clear group of leaders who everyone fell in behind, and that helped the Bears steady the ship.

With an adversity-filled season over, the Bears now enter a critical offseason with clouds of change lurking on the horizon.

Head coach Matt Eberflus' future is still up in the air, as is that of quarterback Justin Fields and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

Like most of the Bears' locker room, Lewis has heard the questions about Fields' future for the last month. He doesn't know what general manager Ryan Poles will decide, but he knows Fields is still growing and will blossom somewhere.

"You guys see what I see," Lewis said. "An amazing athlete. I feel like he’s continuing to develop and to be honest, no matter if you’re in your third year or your 18th year, development is a process, and if you’re somebody who understands that the room for growth is always spacious, then you’re going to continue to grow. I feel like he’s at that spot. I feel like he’s done a really good job of getting better every day. He’s a guy that wants to win and wants to be great so I tip my hat to him for just going out there and doing his best with what he’s given. That’s all you can do is be your personal best and live with the results, have no regrets.

"As a player and as a person, he wants to be great. When you have that, you give yourself a chance. ... He did some things this year that kind of wowed me. Definitely a guy that’s getting better for sure."

Fields said he had "no regrets" after Sunday's loss in Green Bay. The 24-year-old quarterback finished his press conference at Lambeau Fields by saying goodbye to Chicago, "just in case" that was his final game with the Bears.

As for Getsy, Lewis has known the Bears' offensive coordinator dating back to their time together in Green Bay. Getsy is the reason Lewis chose the Bears over a handful of other teams who were jockeying for his veteran services.

Lewis saw growth from the second-year coordinator. Lewis praised Getsy for "mixing up" the offense, getting the Bears' ground game going, and creating explosives. As Lewis started to see the field more during the back half of the season, he knew the Bears' run game was clicking, the Bears were staying ahead of the chains, and the play-pass game was functional.

While the Bears finished the season ranked second in rushing and moved into the middle of the pack in scoring and total offense, they remained in the bottom third in almost every passing category.

After the Bears failed to score a touchdown in the season finale, all signs point to Getsy's time in Chicago ending.

Lewis understands people have painted Getsy as the villain, but he believes the Bears' OC has done a good job shutting out that noise and staying focused on helping the offense find its identity and grow throughout the season.

"You’re going to have critics, right? You’re going to have critics," Lewis said of those who want Getsy fired.
"You’re going to have the doers. And that’s what this world is about. You need both, right? And I just feel like since the beginning of time until the end of time, it’s going to be that way. So if you focus on people who are not in the arena, then it’s going to get you off-kilter, and you’re not going to be able to do the things you want to do. If you focus on your job and your responsibility to the team and to us, then we’re going to get what we want to get out of it.

"The message [with Luke] always stays the same regardless of whether we face defeat or achieve victory. It’s always going to be the same, and when you’re a player in the NFL, and you know what the anxiety level is and the amount of personal responsibility that we all have to each other, when you can count on your coach coming in and keeping the same message, it allows you to go out there and be able to do your thing and be successful and get better. I think he did that."

Despite a 7-10 season that ended without a postseason berth, the vibes were high at Halas Hall as locker cleanout unfolded.

Star edge rusher Montez Sweat praised the foundation the Bears built, while wide receiver DJ Moore pointed to the games the Bears let slip away that they'll be able to close in the future.

Lewis hinted that he plans to play again in 2024. He'll be a free agent this offseason, so it's unclear where Year 19 will take place.

Whether in Chicago or elsewhere, Lewis believes the Bears have built a winning foundation set for big things in 2024.

"We found a groove, and it felt good to be in that groove," Lewis said. "Returning for training camp next year will be different. It’s going to look different. The expectations are going to be different. Raising the bar. That’s what this is all about – anything that you do.

"You’re coming in to be better than you were yesterday. And giving your personal best and getting the most out of yourself that you can on that day. And when that day is over, put it to rest. The stack another one. And then just keep going. That’s easier said than done. But when you can really embody that and home in on your craft, it’ll be dangerous, man."

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