LAKE FOREST – Trevor Siemian narrowed his options down to two during free agency: the Las Vegas Raiders and the Chicago Bears. That decision was a no-brainer for the former Northwestern 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], 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 liked the idea of going back to a place he used to call home, where he met his wife and where he still has a lot of friends. Siemian, who played at Northwestern from 2011-14, has already visited a Wildcats spring football practice.
In a perfect world, the 30-year-old quarterback will never see the field during the regular season. That would mean that starting quarterback Justin Fields is healthy.
But the Bears made sure they targeted a backup quarterback who has experience stepping into a starting job mid-season, if necessary. Siemian has started 29 games during his career, including four last year in New Orleans after starting quarterback Jameis Winston injured his knee.
Siemian has seen a lot in his seven years in the NFL, and he has backed up 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 backup. 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 a thing here or there and apply it to my own game, then I’ll be in good shape.”
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 that have experience around him — experience in different ways, whether they be starters, whether they be backups,” Janocko said. “And then they have different perspectives they bring to the room. I think it is important to have guys that are going to lift him up.”
The 34-year-old Janocko is tasked with coaching all three quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, a former quarterback coach in Green Bay, is heavily involved in the process as well.
Siemian has always admired what the Packers offense has done from afar. He called Getsy’s offense “an easy system to play fast in” for quarterbacks. Janocko added that it’s all about timing. If the quarterback has a good rhythm and if everyone stays on time, it makes it easy on the QB to read what’s in front of him and react.
That plays right into Siemian’s strengths, should he ever have to come on in relief of Fields.
“I can get the ball out of my hand quickly, get everybody lined up and on the same page in a timely fashion,” Siemian said. “The other part of being a backup is being there for the guy that is playing and being his guy.”
The Bears are hoping Siemian can be that guy for Fields. Siemian believes 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 of these opinions,” Siemian said.
He also believes that the No. 1 most important thing for a young quarterback is playing experience. With 10 starts under his belt as a rookie, Fields already has a solid base in that regard.
Now it’s time to see that support system in action, both the people and Getsy’s scheme.
“It’s fun to see Justin get the hang of the system and talk ball and go back and forth with Luke,” Siemian said. “It’s early, but we’re in a good spot.”