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[Preview 2022] Chicago Bears: Too bad for Justin Fields

[Preview 2022] Chicago Bears: Too bad for Justin Fields

The 2022 season is approaching, so the editorial staff of TDActu offers you to take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of the 32 franchises. You can find all the presentations by clicking on this link.

Matt Nagy has (finally) been fired, and he’s left behind a field of ruins in the middle of Soldier Field. Several major executives have left, and the workforce has many holes and big uncertainties.

To begin the difficult, and surely long, reconstruction, the franchise relied on Matt Eberflus, former Colts defensive coordinator. A first indicator of the spirit that these new Bears will have? In any case, surrounding the young quarterback Justin Fields (yet drafted in 10th position in 2021) was not at all the priority of the leaders during the spring.

Last season: 6-11, no playoffs

Movements in the off-season

Notable arrivals: Byron Pringle (WR), Equanimeous St Brown (WR), Dante Pettis (WR), N’Keal Harry (WR), Lucas Patrick (OL) Dakota Dozier (OL), Trevor Siemian (QB), Al-Quadin Muhammad (DE ), Justin Jones (DT), Nick Morrow (LB), Dane Cruikshank (S)
Re-signatures: K
Draft: Kyle Gordon (CB), Jaquan Brisker (S), Velus Jones Jr (WR), Braxton Jones (OT), Dominique Robinson (DE), Zachary Thomas (OT), Trestan Ebner (RB), Doug Kramer (C), Ja ‘Tyre Carter (OT), Elijah Hicks (S), Trenton Hill (P)
Notable losses: Khalil Mack (Edge), Akiem Hicks (DT), Eddie Goldman (DT), Danny Trevathan (LB), Allen Robinson (WR), Tarik Cohen (RB)

The page of the workforce pretending to the playoffs is well and truly turned. Star and face of the team for 4 years, Khalil Mack was sent to the other side of the country. The All Pro multiple leaves a gigantic void on the outside of the line. A line which also loses two other major holders of the last exercises Akeem Hicks and Eddie Goldman. If a few reinforcements come to compensate for these losses, like Justin Jones or Al Quadin Muhammad, on paper, the front 7 of Chicago comes out disfigured from this offseason. New general manager Ryan Poles showcased his defensive backfield in the draft with two second-round picks, Kyle Gordon and Jaquan Brisker, both up for starters.

On the other side of the ball, Allen Robinson was left out, leaving the number one receiver position vacant. A multitude of candidates have been recruited to redesign a squad without a real leader. Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St Brown come to prove that they can deserve stripes of holders, as for the disappointments N’Keal Harry and Dante Pettis, they come to try to relaunch careers that have been badly embarked since their beginning with the pros. Nothing transcendent or enough to offer certainties to Justin Fields. The protection of the quarterback precisely, was curiously considered. This other major roster was touched up by former complement players in their former teams, and the franchise waited until the 5th round to start strengthening its line. Lucas Patrick should take the center position, while rookie Braxton Jones could quickly take responsibility for the blind side of his quarterback.

The strong points)

The fearsome Bears defense of past seasons has lived. Yet one sector remains dominant. Air defense remained in the top 3 in the league in 2021 and the sector was also the priority of the draft with the first two picks in the franchise. The fast Kyler Gordon will be the counterpart of a solid Jaylon Johnson. The promising and versatile Jaquan Brisker will form an attractive safety duo with former All Pro Eddie Jackson on paper. A squad built on solid foundations with the injection of new blood, all under the thumb of a defensive-minded head coach, the defensive backfield looks to have a bright future ahead of it.

If it is not the most highly rated in the NFL, the duo of runners is nonetheless solid and the best offensive guarantee before the start of the season. David Montgomery has already proven that he could pass the milestone of 1000 yards on the ground and that he could bring a real solution to the reception. Interesting during his rookie season, Khalil Herbert should still increase in power both in workload and in efficiency. A precious help for a Justin Fields who is sorely lacking.

The weak spots)

This help for the quarterback should not come from his offensive line. With 58 conceded sacks, Chicago’s offensive line was the most porous in 2021. Not ideal for a rookie quarterback, even more so when you know Fields’ propensity to foil under pressure. Despite its poor statistics, the reinforcement of this (fundamental) aspect of the attack has been little considered. Lucas Patrick will bring experience and versatility, the rest mostly looks like tinkering. Michael Schoffield and Riley Reiff should (just arrived 2 weeks ago!) should hold the right side and 5th round rookie Braxton Jones could take the left side. Nothing reassuring. The Windy City front office must rely on a Fields in Russell Wilson mode to work miracles without protection.

With the exception of last year’s upset, Darnell Mooney, the receiving group is a huge gamble. The front office amassed signatures during the offseason, without really finding a potential holder and even less a replacement for former number one Allen Robinson. The four experienced rookies (Harry, St Brown, Pringle and Pettis) compiled 937 yards last year. Not enough to make Soldier Field dream and excited Justin Fields. The new offensive coordinator has work to improve this squad.

Deprived of most of its incumbents in recent years, the defensive line no longer has the same aura or the same deterrent force. Of course Robert Quinn and his 18.5 sacks in 2021 are still there, but the former Ram is 32 and will no longer be associated with Khalil Mack and his propensity to monopolize opponents. The team of the medium composed of player of duty, lack of talents and youth to renew themselves. On the second curtain, the excellent Roquan Smith demanded his departure and if he wins his case, he will leave a gaping hole in the middle of the field.

Factor X: the genius of Matt Eberflus

With one of the poorest numbers in the league, we sail a little far from the X factor to end up stranded on the shores of hope. No squad really seems to be able to change the fate of the Bears.

A stroke of genius from Justin Fields? Probably too badly surrounded. Defense ? Roquan Smith, one of the last quality players, is in open conflict with his managers.

So that leaves Matt Eberflus. The new coach has had solid results with the Colts defense, even if he has not made it a war machine either (9th in points against and 16th in yards in 2021). Perhaps his approach will reinvigorate the entire franchise. Maybe the defense will keep a more than solid level. Perhaps the attack will be reborn. Maybe world peace will be a reality in 15 days.

Player to watch: Cole Kmet (TE)

Even if he did not score a single touchdown in 2021, Cole Kmet showed strong progress, both in his game and statistically. Become a man of confidence for Fields as well as a safety valve, the former publisher of Notre Dame won in the Chicago attack with 60 balls captured for 612 yards. At only 23 years old, his room for improvement is still significant. Her new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is full of praise for her young player, not hesitating to call her a potential “rock star”. A complete player, able to contribute to all phases of the game, Kmet could totally explode in 2022. The only assured target of a significant playing time with Darnell Mooney, he could become one of the main offensive engine of his team, at the like the other big tight ends in the league.


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The audio preview of the podcast

In summary

It is a new chapter which opens in Illinois. The exodus of talent from the offseason and surprising sporting choices should not make the task of new coach Matt Eberflus easier and even less so of his young quarterback, left to his own devices in an attack under construction and little considered during the spring. In a division where two teams are far superior to them and with a calendar that is not necessarily obvious, the Bears’ 2022 season should above all be about taking charge of the workforce and preparing for a better tomorrow.

Prognosis: 4-13 no playoffs

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