Chicago Bears Last Season’s Performance
The beginning of the 2021 season gave Chicago Bears fans false hope, starting 3-2 in their first five games. That quickly faded as they went 1-8 over their next nine, with the only win coming against the Detroit Lions. After another underwhelming season, head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace were fired.
The dysfunction and poor roster building were evident all season, as both Nagy and Pace were on the hot seat. They started the season with three starting quarterback options in Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, and rookie Justin Fields. After trading up for Fields in the 2021 draft by sending the Giants their first pick in 2022t, which turned out to be seventh overall, he started on the bench. Fields did work his way into the starting job, and it wasn’t all clean.
The defense starred Pro-Bowler Robert Quinn, who finished the season with 18.5 sacks, breaking the Bears’ franchise record. Outside of Quinn and linebacker Roquan Smith who totaled 168 tackles, the defense did not play up to standards it has set for itself over the last few seasons.
Chicago Bears Key Additions
With a new head coach and general manager taking over, the roster has gone through an overhaul. However, due to how the team was managed under the previous administration, it has left very little financial movement after the changes.
It has forced new general manager Ryan Poles to rebuild the roster while being cost-effective. They retooled at receiver, trading a seventh-round pick for a former New England Patriots first-rounder N’Keal Harry, and signed Byron Pringle on a cost-effective short-term deal. The Bears also bolstered the offensive line by signing Lucas Patrick on another cheap two-year deal. Trevor Siemian was also signed to be the backup to Fields at quarterback.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears made their most significant signing of the offseason, signing defensive tackle Justin Jones on a two-year $12 million deal.
Chicago Bears Key Subtraction
A lot of expensive contracts were dispatched. The new regime made things clear change is in order/
Most notably, wide receiver Allen Robinson left in free agency, and edge rusher Khalil Mack was traded. They had two of the richest contracts on the team, and struggled with injuries in 2021, having little impact.
Foles and Dalton are no longer on the team. The offensive line also lost James Daniels, a quality starter for all 17 games last season.
What talent the Bears did have on their defense that could walk in free agency left the team. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks is past his prime but still productive when healthy. The secondary also lost key players in Artie Burns and Deon Bush, who ended the season in the top three in pass deflections despite only starting a combined 10 games.
Chicago Bears Head Coach Analysis
Nagy was hired as an offensive-minded head coach after spending one year as offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017. The only season the offense was above-average was Nagy’s first.
A lot of the media scrutiny was placed on former quarterback Mitch Trubisky. However, with Trubisky gone last season and the same issues remaining, it proved Nagy was the problem.
The Bears’ head coach for 2022 will be Matt Eberflus, who has spent the last four seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts’ defense during that time has improved to one of the strongest in the NFL. Much of the Bears’ talent is on the defensive side.
Chicago Bears Injured Players at the Beginning of the Season
Despite all the issues in the Bears’ 2021 season, injuries were not that much of a factor. Robinson and Mack, two of the team’s most important players, got hurt, but before that, they were not producing.
Running David Montgomery was placed on the IR for some time in the middle of the season but missed five games. One of the stars of last year’s defense, Roquan Smith, is currently listed as out due to a contract dispute.
Chicago Bears Offense
The offense will look different. For one, a whole new offensive philosophy will be in place. On top of that, Fields will be the starting quarterback with an offense more suited to his skill set.
Last season Fields certainly had some rough games. He can be used as an asset in the run game but also make exciting plays with his arm, just not consistently, yet. This year the offense is more catered to him, and with wide receiver Darnell Mooney coming into his own last season with over 1,000 receiving yards, look for his role to grow.
Fields is best at throwing off play action, giving him more time to read the defense or scramble. Montgomery will be a crucial part of that as last year’s leading rusher. He also poses a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, coming in third in receptions on the team last year.
Chicago Bears Defense
Last season, the Bears allowed the sixth-fewest yards in the NFL, but it did not stop opposing teams from scoring, giving up the 10th-most points. Much of the defensive success came against the pass game, facing the least pass attempts and allowing the third-fewest yards. However, they allowed seventh-most passing touchdowns. Their run defense wasn’t anything special either.
Sack leader Quinn is still on the roster, and hopefully, Smith and the Bears can come to a contract agreement. They also added Al-Quadin Muhammad in free agency, who should replace some lost talents on the defensive line.
Safety Eddie Jackson had a down year last season. The rest of the secondary lost some talent, meaning second-round pick corner Kyler Gordon may be a starter.
Chicago Bears Special Teams
The Bears went through the 2021 season without changing any of their kickers. Cairo Santos did a solid job as placekicker, 86.7% of his field-goal attempts, while also handling kickoffs. Punter Pat O’Donnell had the fifth-lowest average yards per punt, despite being middle of the pack in all other categories.
Santos will still be the placekicker in 2022, while seventh-round pick Trenton Gill will replace O’Donnell, who left in free agency, as the punter
Last year kick and punt return specialist Jakeem Grant made the Pro-Bowl, with one punt return for a touchdown and averaged 23.4 yards per kick return. Grant is a Cleveland Brown but Khalil Herbert and Dazz Newsome are on the roster and had some returns last season.
Chicago Bears Prediction for the 2022 Season
It may take some time for the Bears’ complete overhaul of the top decision makers to take effect. The roster has not been completely remade, but a lot has changed going into 2022.
The good thing is the Bears seemed to have already figured out one of the most critical pieces of a modern NFL team, the quarterback. Fields will not have to be looking over his shoulder to check if he may be benched, but has the green light to learn what it takes to succeed in the NFL. Last year he showed how talented he could be and with an offense built solely with him in mind, he gets a chance to thrive.
The defense schematically will improve with Eberflus. There is some talent on that side of the ball, but the depth is lacking. Based on what the Bears have lost in free agency, the secondary may prove to be a weakness.
Chicago Bears Final Thoughts
Not having their draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft may have hurt them, but losing that pick would be worth it if Fields turns into a franchise quarterback. The good thing is that they ended up with 11 picks, and many of those players could be starters by the end of the season. Figuring out who will be around in the team’s next steps could have a big impact down the line.
The team is officially in rebuild mode, and the record will be near the bottom of the league. This season will be about getting young players experience.
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Chicago Bears FAQs
Why do the Chicago Bears struggle to find a top-level QB?
Throughout the Bears’ history, they have struggled to acquire a top-level quarterback. Most of the time, the Bears teams are built through the running game and defense.
Why did the 1985 Bears never win another Super Bowl?
After winning the Super Bowl in 1985, the Bears could not repeat despite maintaining an amazing team. A big part was defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan leaving to become a head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. .
How would the Bears' '46’ defense fare in today's NFL?
The 1985 Bears defense was one of the best in NFL history, primarily due to their 46 defensive formation. However, with the modern NFL passing game and the athletes on every team, it might be hard for such a great defense to match up.
What years did the Bears go to the Super Bowl?
The Bears won one Super Bowl in 1985, making it back in 2006 only to lose to the Indianapolis Colts. The Bears had an illustrious history before the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, winning championships in 1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, and 1963.