The Bears drafted Justin Fields as they looked to move past the failure of the Mitchell Trubisky era. But it’s not going to be easy to fully wipe away the Trubisky memories in 2022.
The former Bears quarterback is expected to resurface as a starter for the Steelers this season, and Pittsburgh looks like it will be better than Chicago.
Meanwhile, the Bears haven’t done much in terms of their draft personnel upgrades to help Fields improve this season. They have brought in a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, but the team is obviously very lacking at wide receiver outside of Darnell Mooney.
There will be a lot of pressure on Fields to show significant improvement in Year Two, but it’s also asking a lot of the young quarterback to succeed without an adequate supporting cast.
Justin Fields Will Have A Thin Receiving Crew In 2022
Darnell Mooney, And Not Much More
As we look around the league, we see other teams trying to ease the pressure on their young quarterbacks by surrounding them with quality or promising playmakers. The Dolphins, Eagles, Jets, and Jaguars are a few examples. In San Francisco, Trey Lance is transitioning into a situation where he has good offensive pieces around him.
But all Fields really has of note at wide receiver is Mooney. He certainly impressed by reaching the 1,000-yard mark last season and may only be getting better. But it would be better for the outlooks of Mooney and Fields if he was playing a more comfortable role as a No. 2 wide receiver beside a true standout No. 1 guy. Last season, we found out that Allen Robinson was no longer the fit for such a role.
Bears fans may have looked on with jealousy as the Eagles landed A.J. Brown and the Jaguars acquired Christian Kirk. Jacksonville may have overpaid for Kirk, but he would have been an instant starter on the Bears. We also know that the Chicago front office is committed to a rebuild, even if it does not admit so publicly. There will likely be more of an eye on significant roster improvements in 2023.
For now, the Bears will embrace a youth movement, and the coaching changes do show a commitment to managing such a roster. OC Luke Getsy is expected to incorporate creative schemes that can help Fields improve. After his experience working in the Packers’ offense, Getsy should be insightful on how to further take advantage of Fields’ considerable potential.
Getsy and new quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko, who worked in Minnesota from 2015 to 2021, will be major figures in what could be a pivotal early-career season for Fields. They will be tasked with helping him move the offense consistently while also being more decisive as a passer. They will have to guide him properly while he attempts to overcome a glaring lack of weaponry.
Tight end Cole Kmet should step forward as a more effective playmaker this season, but he too is evolving as a pro. While showing significant promise last year and definite signs of improvement, Kmet did not catch a single TD pass in 2021. He may be forced to play a prominent role in the Bears’ passing game this season.
Mediocrity At Wide Receiver, But Bears Running Backs Look Good
Beyond Mooney at wide receiver, the Bears have the likes of Byron Pringle, who was a secondary target for the Chiefs and has not shown any indicators that he will be an impact starter and totally uninspiring journeyman types such as Tajae Sharpe and Dante Pettis. David Moore played well with Russell Wilson at times earlier in his career, but he won’t be anything more than a third WR at best. Third-round rookie Velus Jones Jr. has deep gears and could be pushed into a starting role at some point this season.
Fortunately, the Bears do have a deep crew of running backs. Expect David Montgomery to be leaned on heavily and both as a runner and receiver. Khalil Herbert showed true flashes of potential last season and can get on the field more if his pass blocking improves. Rookie Trestan Ebner could eventually emerge as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Darrynton Evans may also be able to operate in a similar role.
The offensive line, though, is a major area of concern, and the Chicago defense, especially the secondary, could put the offense in many situations where it has to play from behind. The key for Getsy and Janocko will be to ensure that Fields does not melt down when he is attempting to bring the team back into games. He also cannot afford to continue taking so many sacks in adverse situations.
The 2022 season is going to be a very challenging one for Fields because the team around him is not built to help him succeed or foster his growth. We should also not judge him too harshly, either. The Bears could very well prove to be the worst team in the NFC in 2022.
Expecting a young QB to try and pull his team out of the darkness by himself is not realistic. But if Fields can deliver some hope for the future with a few exciting outings and some respectable performances, we can be more optimistic about the years to come.
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