The Chicago Bears are going into an important season, even if it is devoid of expectations of things like winning and making the playoffs. They need to figure out how their team of the future looks, mainly centering around 2021 first round selection, QB Justin Fields from The Ohio State University. But what can the Bears hope for at best in their 2022 season at every position? And on the other side, what can they prepare for as their worst-case scenario? Let’s run through each position group. This article leaves out injuries because they are an obvious worst-case scenario situation.

 

QB

Best-Case Scenario:

The Bears figure out Justin Fields is their long-term QB and first real drafted franchise QB since Sid Luckman. The best-case scenario we can see here is he has a breakout ala Patrick Mahomes year 2, though his weapons aren’t quite as explosive. Instead, we’ll give a more recent example and say he’ll have a year like another Justin, Justin Herbert. Herbert threw 66.6%, 4331 yards, 31 TDs, and 10 picks in year 1. In year 2, he went for 66%, 5014 yards, 38 TDs, though 17 interceptions. Herbert has a solid but not an amazing arsenal. If Fields can make a jump similar to Herbert (although to be fair he’s not at Herbert’s post-rookie level yet), the Bears have to be ecstatic about their future. Fields at the minimum needs to take less sacks, hit more checkdowns, and speed up his processing throws.

Worst-Case Scenario:

Some sophomore QBs take the leap. Some do not. The Bears lack of investment in the offense around Fields puts them in a good situation for future years, but not for 2022. And if Fields has a 2022 season like Daniel Jones’s sophomore campaign, the Bears will be in trouble, doing unrepairable damage to their young QB. The Giants failed to support Jones following a promising rookie season that surprised a lot of people. Most of his stats regressed; he threw for 100 yards less, 12 less TDs, had a lower AY/A, and took way more sacks. If Fields takes more sacks than last year he’s bound to get injured.

RB

Best-Case Scenario:

The Bears jump into top 5 territory in terms of RB duos, with David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert both being very productive; Montgomery goes back to end of 2020 and start of 2021 form, and Herbert stays in form from last season. Also one of them, say Montgomery, takes on a lighter load running in order to do more on 3rd downs as a catching back to replace Tarik Cohen. Combined, they can take the pressure off Fields and help the Bears put games away. Montomery earns an Austin Ekeler type extension. Khari Blasingame is a solid FB.

Worst-Case Scenario:

Montgomery struggles with explosiveness still, and Herbert has a sophomore slump. Trestan Ebner is unable to become a threat in the receiving department, as the Bears struggle to find a replacement for Tarik Cohen. The running game is unable to help a sophomore QB in Fields, who faces constant pressure on 3rd and longs. Montgomery walks in free agency.

WR

Best-Case Scenario:

Darnell Mooney takes another step forward, becoming Justin Fields’s favorite target and eclipsing 100 catches, 1250 yards, and 10 TDs. Byron Pringle has a strong prove-it year, showing he can be a solid number 2 receiver for this offense. Velus Jones Jr shows off his ability as a YAC guy, racking it up on 2 or 3 plays designed for him per game. Equanimeous St. Brown, David Moore, Tajae Sharpe, and/or Dante Pettis show they still have ability that they’ve flashed before and provide good depth and possible jumpball receiving or deep threats, but Mooney, Pringle, and Jones are clear 1-2-3.

Worst-Case Scenario:

Mooney is keyed in on by every defense and can’t take the next step. Pringle shows he’s no more than a number 3 receiver, even on a team devoid of receiving talent. Velus Jones struggles with the transition to the NFL and with route running similar to guys of his profile like Cordaralle Patterson and Devin Hester. The depth receivers continue to struggle with the issues like drops that got them cut in the first place, so the Bears only have 1.5 reliable receivers in an important developmental year for Justin Fields.

TE

Best-Case Scenario:

Cole Kmet takes a step forward into the next tier of TEs. His offseason workouts help him become more athletic, more fluid in his route running and agile in his YAC ability. He adds about 10 catches, 200 yards to his statline, and actually makes catches in the endzone (a TE needs to have more than 2 TDs throughout his first 2 seasons). More importantly, he stays consistent throughout the season; no disappearing acts, but at least 5 catches 60 yards every game. The backup TEs provide solid blocking help, and one of the UDFA TEs (most likely Chase Allen) emerges as a nice find by Ryan Poles.

Worst-Case Scenario:

Kmet stays stagnant in his development. He stays very stiff in his route running and gets tackles right after catches, and can’t make contested catches the way a TE should. He also has games where he’s a big part of the gameplan, then games where he has one or two targets only because he fails to separate. Our 2nd round TE is worth no more than a 5th round TE. The backup TEs provide nothing in the blocking game or in the receiving game.

OL

Best-Case Scenario:

The Bears find an OL group and stick with it the entire season barring injuries. It includes 3 guys they have drafted in  the last two seasons (the leaders in the clubhouse being Teven Jenkins, Larry Borom, Braxton Jones, Zachary Thomas). Lucas Patrick provides stability at the center spot, something the team has lacked for 2 seasons, and his experience in Luke Getsy’s offense helps everyone got acclimated faster. Cody Whitehair bounces back from a poor season and back to being one of the better guards in the league at LG, and worth his pricetag. Jenkins and Borom/Jones bookend the tackle spots with little issue, and RG is won by one of the rookies, or a cap casualty veteran slides in after training camp.

Worst-Case Scenario:

Jenkins and Borom can’t really get a feel at their chosen spots, and continue to struggle as they did last season. None of the rookies the Bears selected this year are ready. RG remains a mystery all the way up to week 1 because no clear veteran was released. Whitehair continues to decline, and his play is the new normal. Lucas Patrick shows why he wasn’t a mainstay on the OL for Green Bay. The Bears lead the league in sacks given up again, and Montgomery and Herbert have a hard time getting out of the backfield with speed.

DL

Best-Case Scenario:

Trevis Gipson takes the leap to a good starter. He had a good end to 2020, then was great as a rotational rusher in 2021. Now he takes over as a full-time starter and starts emerging as a future star in Chicago. Robert Quinn keeps up his production from 2021; though his pressure to sack percentage will drop, it doesn’t drop very dramatically, and he hits double digit sacks, and maybe he gets traded for a 2nd round pick midseason with Gipson’s emergence (or helps the Bears push for a playoff spot lol jk). Al-Quadin Muhammad also plays solidly on the DE side, giving the Bears 3 good edge rushers like they had before (so sad that Khalil Mack is gone). Gipson hits double digit sacks. In the interior, the rotation of Khyiris Tonga, Justin Jones, Angelo Blackson, and Mario Edwards Jr provides an upgrade over what they had last year when Akiem Hicks was injured and Eddie Goldman wasn’t his old self. Tonga takes the leap and takes Goldman’s old spot, and Blackson and Jones, PFF darlings, provide both pass rush and run stuffing.

Worst-Case Scenario:

Robert Quinn’s production falls off a cliff, and the Bears sell him at the deadline for no more than a day 3 pick. Gipson can’t quite match his production as a full-time starter. Muhammad’s breakout season last year is an aberration, and he can’t get more than 3 sacks. Tonga struggles in a bigger role, and the same goes for Blackson and Jones. Edwards Jr keeps racking up dumb penalties.

LB

Best-Case Scenario:

Roquan Smith gets into first team All-Pro, and finally gets a Pro Bowl nod too. He and the Bears agree on a new extension in the same amount as Darius Leonard and Fred Warner. Nicholas Morrow provides stability at the other ILB spot, showing sideline to sideline speed. One of the Bears UDFA LBs breaks out and they have a const-controlled partner for Roquan Smith for the next 3 years as his extension kicks in.

Worst-Case Scenario:

Smith struggles as the defense around him is less talented. Morrow struggles coming off of his injury, None of the UDFA LBs the Bears sign amount to anything, leaving them strapped for any kind of depth, and they can;t even really play their base 4-3 defense much, and stay in nickel only.

CB

Best-Case Scenario:

The Bears have a great young group of corners that will be the strength of their defense after their EDGEs. Jaylon Johnson continues to ascend, as he already follows WR1s and did a great job last year. This time, he gets a few interceptions and deflections on top of his shutdown play and ascends to the top tier of corners. Kyler Gordon has his hiccups as a rookie CB, but he takes on the CB2 spot and holds it the whole year, allowing him to play and develop; he is kind of like Kyle Fuller, a perfect complement to Jaylon Johnson. At nickel, the Bears have both Thomas Graham Jr, who flashed in just 4 games played last year, and Tavon Young, a very good albeit injury-prone corner from Baltimore. The Bears top 4 corners make their 5th and 6th corners in Duke Shelley and Kindle Vildor look like solid depth.

Worst-Case Scenario:

Johnson struggles against bigger, stronger receivers. Gordon struggles to adapt to playing CB in the NFL. Young can’t get back to his previous play in the nickel, and Graham can’t replicate his success from last season. Vildor and Shelley are forced to play again, and it won’t be pretty.

S

Best-Case Scenario:

Eddie Jackson returns to his 2018 and 2019 and early 2020 form, and not his late 2020 and 2021 form. That means he’s back to a top FS in the league, and playing great in Eberflus’s cover 2 and cover 4 zones. He also continues to stack up turnover worthy plays, and gets at least 4 interceptions. Jaquan Brisker is his perfect complement, like a reincarnation of Adrian Amos. His hard-hitting SS play will allow Eddie Jackson to roam freely and go for big plays while Brisker covers for him underneath. Dane Cruikshank and DeAndre Houston-Carson provide great depth.

Worst-Case Scenario:

Eddie Jackson still can’t recapture that magic he had before and continues making baffling mistakes tackling. Brisker isn’t quite ready to be thrown to the wolves and gets picked on by top QBs. The depth safeties struggle as dimebacks.

Special Teams

Best-Case Scenario:

Cairo Santos recovers to how he was in 2020 and 2021 before the late skid. Trenton Gill is a solid punter from the get-go. Dazz Newsome becomes a solid punt-returner, while Khalil Herbert and Velus Jones are among league leaders in KR average.

Worst-Case Scenario:

Santons regresses to the mean, Gill can’t replicate O’Donnell’s production, and the young players struggle in the return game.

Verdict:

Things rarely are the best or the worst in the NFL. Therefore, expect a lot of these to end up somewhere in the middle. Expect Justin Fields to take a step forward, but not a monumental one; more like that of Mitchell Trubisky in year 2 (the difference being this time Trubisky had all the reinforcements and only took a medium-sized leap; Fields will take the same leap, THEN get the reinforcements in 2023). Expect David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert to ascend as a duo, but not quite to top 3 status. Expect Mooney to take a step forward, while Pringle is an ok WR2, and Jones makes some big plays but is inconsistent, leading to big investments in the WR position in 2023. Expect Cole Kmet to catch more TDs and be a little more consistent, but not suddenly emerge as a top 10 TE. Expect the OL to have 2-3 positions sorted out while the other 2 remain question marks the entire season. Expect the DEs to be the strongest part of the defense even with the loss of Khalil Mack. Expect the IDL to be middle of the pack of the league Expect Roquan Smith to continue to be elite, but not have a good partner in crime. Expect the CB room to have growing pains but be strong by the end of the season. Expect the safety duo to be solid. And expect the special teams to be just fine. We’ll see how the Bears end up between the best and worst case scenarios presented above.

Leave Your Thoughts!

Check Also

Projecting the Bears Madden 23 Ratings

A couple notes on Madden ratings. Madden likes to keep players fairly close to where they …