Chicago Bears: NFL Roster Update
Things didn’t go too well with a head coach with a background as an offensive play caller, so the Chicago Bears moved on from Matt Nagy and hired former Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as his replacement.
The defense allowed more than 400 points and sent the team’s best player (Khalil Mack) to the Los Angeles Chargers so the new coach will have his work cut out for him.
Chicago didn’t have a first-round pick as a result of the decision to move up to select quarterback Justin Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft. Rather than add players who could improve the chances for success with Fields taking over as the unquestioned starting quarterback, the focus was on improving the secondary. Among Chicago’s picks were Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon and Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker.
The Bears (+1200) have fallen behind the Detroit Lions and have the worst odds to win the NFC North Division title according to the NFL predictions. It would be the first time the Bears landed in the division cellar since 2017.
The Bears (+12500) are tied for 11th among NFC teams in the odds to win the Super Bowl, according to the NFL playoff odds.
- 2021 record: 6-11 (third in NFC North)
- Playoff result: Did not qualify.
- Season opener: vs San Francisco 49ers, Sept. 11, 1 p.m. EDT
- Playoff teams on 2022 schedule: HOME – Buffalo, Green Bay, Philadelphia, San Francisco; AWAY – Green Bay, New England
- Key newcomers: OL Riley Reiff, DL Justin Jones, DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, LB Matthew Adams, WR Equanimeous St. Brown, WR N’Keal Harry, WR David Moore, WR Dante Pettis, TE Ryan Griffin, DL Mike Pennel, CB Tavon Young, QB Nathan Peterman, QB Trevor Siemian, RB Darrynton Evans, OL Shon Coleman, OL Julien Davenport, CB Lamar Jackson. CB Kyler Gordon (second-round pick), S Jaquan Brisker (second-round pick), WR Velus Jones (third-round pick).
- Key losses: LB Khalil Mack, WR Allen Robinson, DL Akiem Hicks, QB Nick Foles, QB Andy Dalton, TE Jimmy Graham, WR Marquise Goodwin, OL James Daniels, OT Germain Ifedi, OT Jason Peters, DL Bilal Nichols, DL Eddie Goldman, LB Christian Jones, CB Artie Burns, S Deon Bush, S Tashaun Gipson, P Pat O’Donnell.
- Award candidates: Roquan Smith, +5000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Justin Fields, +8000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Robert Quinn, +6000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; David Montgomery, +10000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Darnell Mooney, +10000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds.
Fields was 2-8 as the starting quarterback as a rookie. He completed less than 60 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. That is not going to get it done at the NFL level. There are questions whether the Bears have surrounded Fields with enough talent to be successful.
– Justin Fields’ development
– The Roquan Smith situation
– 2 veterans join the offensive line
– Reps, playing time & targets up for grab at wide receiver
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) July 27, 2022
There are concerns about the quality of the pass catchers. Allen Robinson is now with the Los Angeles Rams, leaving questions on the outside. Slot receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet were the top two receivers a season ago. The best deep threat on the team in 2021 was Marquise Goodwin and he is now a member of the Seattle Seahawks, while Damiere Byrd moved on to the Atlanta Falcons. Tight end Jimmy Graham and receiver Jakeem Grant are also gone.
Chicago added receivers Equanimeous St. Brown, N’Keal Harry, David Moore, and Dante Pettis along with tight end Ryan Griffin. Velus Jones was selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Tennessee and he could add some big-play potential to the offense.
The strength of the offense will be the running back position with David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert leading the way. Montgomery ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2020 and might have reached that level again in 2021 had he not missed four games. Herbert led the Chicago running backs with an average of 4.2 yards per carry.
The Bears just signed veteran Riley Reiff while Shon Coleman and Julien Davenport were also brought in on the offensive line. The Bears did draft four offensive linemen, although all of those selections came in the fifth round or later.
Trading away one of the best pass rushers in the NFL is a curious way to address a struggling defense. Khalil Mack had 36 sacks in his four seasons in Chicago and now he is a member of the Los Angeles Chargers. Robert Quinn, who led the Bears with 18½ sacks in 2021, is back to lead the defense.
Linebacker Roquan Smith is a rising star who had 163 tackles and has more than 100 stops in each of his four NFL seasons. Smith is not happy with his contract situation and that is something that needs to be addressed.
Linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols are gone and that leaves Chicago without two of its top five tacklers from a season ago.
After using their top draft pick on offensive players in each of the last three drafts, the Bears selected defensive backs Gordon and Brisker in the second round. They will team with cornerback Jaylon Johnson and safety Eddie Jackson in the secondary. Cornerback Tavon Young was brought in after a six-year run with the Baltimore Ravens.
2022 Bears Outlook
The rebuilding process with the Bears figures to take some time. There are some exciting young players on both sides of the ball. Fields is ready for his second NFL season while fixing things with leading tackler Smith should be priority No. 1.
Opening the season against the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers will not be easy. Things should be more manageable after that with the next four games against teams that missed the playoffs during the 2021 season.
Chicago was 3-3 in one-score games and 2-4 in division games last season and both of those numbers need to improve.
The NFL betting line is showing -150 odds for the Bears to finish under the expected regular-season win total of 6½. The odds to go over that total have moved from -105 to +120 since early June.
Something for those who bet online will need to consider: Chicago failed to cover in nine of the last 12 games in 2021.