Trevor Siemian narrowed his options to two during free agency: the Las Vegas Raiders and the Chicago Bears. The move was a no-brainer for the former North West quarterback.
“I liked what coach (Matt) Eberflus told me,” Siemian said during OTAs last week. “I liked the direction of the club. It was a good opportunity to be with Justin (Fields), to be in that room. And I really liked the scheme that (offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is) incorporating , and I think I can play my best football in this scheme.”
He loved the idea of returning to a place he called home, where he met his wife and still has many friends. Siemian, who played at Northwestern from 2011 to 2014, once visited a Wildcats spring football practice.
In a perfect world, the 30-year-old quarterback would never see the field during the regular season. That would mean Fields is healthy.
But the Bears made sure to target a backup quarterback who has experience in a midseason starting job, if needed. Siemian has started 29 games in his career, including four last year in New Orleans after starting quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a knee injury.
Siemian has seen a lot in his seven years in the NFL, and he’s backed two all-time greats in Peyton Manning in Denver and Drew Brees in New Orleans. He won a Super Bowl with the Broncos as a substitute. A year later, after Manning retired, he started 14 games for the Broncos.
“For me, I wasn’t trying to be Peyton,” Siemian said. “I wasn’t trying to be Drew, but if I could pick up something here or there and apply it to my own game, then I’d be fine.”
The Bears also added veteran backup Nathan Peterman, who has been in the league since 2017. The goal, in the words of quarterback coach Andrew Janocko, is to build the best possible support system for Fields.
“It’s instrumental for [Fields] to just have guys who have experience around him – experience in different ways, whether they’re starters, whether they’re substitutes,” Janocko said. And then they have different perspectives that they bring to the room. I think it’s important to have guys who are going to lift it.”
Janocko, 34, is responsible for coaching all three quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, the quarterback’s former coach at Green Bay, is also heavily involved in the process.
Siemian has always admired what the Packers offense has done from afar. He called Getsy’s offense “an easy system to play quickly” for quarterbacks. Janocko added that it’s all about timing. If the quarterback has a good pace and everyone stays on time, it makes it easy for the QB to read what’s in front of him and react.
This plays directly into Siemian’s strengths, should he ever replace Fields.
“I can get the ball out of my hand quickly, line everyone up and be on the same page in a timely manner,” Siemian said. “The other part of being a substitute is being there for the guy playing and being his guy.”
The Bears are hoping Siemian can be that guy for Fields. Siemian thinks there’s a fine line between giving a young QB advice and giving him too much advice.
“You don’t want to be a guy with all these opinions,” Siemian said.
He also thinks the most important thing for a young quarterback is playing experience. With 10 starts as a rookie, Fields already has a solid foundation in that regard.
Now is the time to see this support system in action, both the people and the Getsy program.
“It’s fun to watch Justin master the system and talk ball and go back and forth with Luke,” Siemian said. “It’s early, but we are well placed.”