PHOENIX -- Rob Gronkowski spent his entire career catching passes from the greatest quarterback in NFL history in Tom Brady. So the surefire Pro Football Hall of Famer knows what greatness looks like and isn't wowed easily by players' feats on Sundays.
But what Bears quarterback Justin Fields did during his second season almost left the ordinarily loquacious Gronkowski searching for words to describe a record-setting season.
"I mean ... that dude is an absolute beast," Gronkowski told NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday at FOX's Super Bowl media availability in Phoenix.
Fields became just the third quarterback in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season, joining Lamar Jackson and Michael Vick. Fields rushed for 1,143 yards in 15 games and set the single-game record with 178 yards against the Miami Dolphins in Week 9.
Eventually, Gronkowski found his words to gush about Fields' record-setting season.
"There is no doubt about that. When I see that guy run, I think he's the best runner in the whole NFL. He just looks like a gazelle out there. Just the way he sprints and how he puts the burners on and he's just flying by defenders, flying by corners. I definitely think he's a franchise quarterback."
Fields' Year 2 rise was impressive. There's no question the 23-year-old signal-caller showed he's capable of becoming a superstar.
But there is still a lot of work to be done for Fields to go from highlight-reel runner to Super Bowl-caliber quarterback.
"I just think you need the right system around you when you are that type of talent and to utilize that talent in the right way," Gronkowski said. "I feel like he's still kind of feeling it out in the NFL. He broke a couple records, so you just have to figure out a way to use that the right way. I believe he can have a very successful career. And get the right weapons around him as well that can utilize his skill set."
The Bears are still working on implementing a system with the right mix of quarterback-designed runs, RPOs, and straight dropbacks for Fields.
Fields and the Bears' offense had moments of brilliance in 2022. There was a four-game stretch in the middle of the season where they averaged 31 points per game. But that momentum petered out as defenses adjusted to the new wrinkles, and the Bears lacked the talent to counter.
That inability to counter-punch due to a shaky offensive line and subpar weapons at the skill positions saw the Bears' offense hit a ceiling in 2022.
In order for Fields and the offense to build on the step it took this past season, the Bears need to put more talent around the 23-year-old quarterback.
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Former Bears tight end and current FOX Sports play-by-play announcer Greg Olsen believes the Bears are in the ideal spot to do just that with $100 million in salary cap space and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
"I'm happy to see Justin make such incredible growth," Olsen told NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday. "I think they need to take a page out of the Philadelphia playbook and surround him with really good players. Go out and be aggressive in free agency. You got a bazillion dollars in cap space. Go get it. Get him a great line, get him weapons outside.
"We've seen what it can do to the development and the ability to accelerate a young quarterback's growth when you do that."
The Bears are entering what is expected to be a transformative offseason. But Gronkowski, Olsen, and many around the league believe the Bears already have the most critical box checked.
Justin Fields is a franchise quarterback.