The Chicago Bears have countless questions heading into their week one matchup vs the San Francisco 49ers. Questions don’t necessarily have to be a negative though. Chicago is a young team that has experienced a ton of turnover in one offseason. The roster, coaching staff, and front office are all vastly different heading into 2022. A new regime that includes a first time head coach and general manager inevitably presents a multitude of challenges. Now, add a brand new roster full of relatively inexperienced players, and you have a perfect storm to finish last in the division right? Just pack it in and look forward to a top draft pick and the 2023 season? Wrong! Walk with me and I’ll tell you what, or who, will have you jacked for the next 17 Sundays.
Chicago’s Old School Mentality Left Them In The Dust By The Rest Of The League
The Bears have had a lineage of great linebackers and running backs. When you think Chicago, you think of hard hitting defenses led by Butkus and Urlacher. Or an offense starring a hall of fame running back like Sayers or the beloved Sweetness. Not many successful teams are defined by those positions anymore.
One thing the Bears have never gotten right is the quarterback position. In fact, if there is talk about a Chicago quarterback, its probably about how poorly they played any given week. Or any time Chicago plays Green Bay the running joke for the broadcast team is how many quarterbacks the Bears have trotted out in the same timespan the Packers employed Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
The closest the flagship franchise has come to figuring it out was when they traded for Jay Cutler. I loved him during his tenure with Chicago, but he shouldn’t be the statistical leader for such a storied organization. Not a knock on Jay, that is an indictment on the the Bears more than him. He was athletic, had an absolute cannon, and carried a Ditka-like attitude that fit perfect in a blue collar town. A lot of Chicago talking heads and fans have come to appreciate him as time has passed. Okay, I am off my Jay Cutler soap box.
The NFL quarterback has quickly moved from the one dimensional pocket passer to the athletic do-it-all quarterbacks that we are seeing more and more of. It’s a necessity in today’s NFL for your quarterback to be able to create plays with their legs. Not just scramble to pick up a first down on a broken play, but be a legitimate threat to defenses on designed plays is imperative to an offense’s success. Defenses, linebackers specifically, have become smaller and faster to match the evolution of the now prototypical quarterbacks. Teams no longer can deploy the 250lb run stopper. They have to fill gaps, cover tight ends that run like receivers, and contain QBs like Lamar Jackson. It’s an impossible task.
Bears QB Justin Fields is the NFL’s New Age Prototype
Insert Justin Fields. The last 1st round pick of the Ryan Pace era may have been the most important in the franchise’s recent history. Checking in at 6’3″ and 225lbs with a legit sub-4.5 40yd dash, he is big enough to hang in the pocket and fast enough to outrun just about any defender.
His rookie year was muddied by a lame duck coach and GM combo. His role was never clear until head coach Matt Nagy’s hand was forced in the second week of the season when quarterback Andy Dalton went down. Even then, Nagy never truly embrace Fields and didn’t bother himself to call plays to his rookie QB’s strengths. Nagy seemed too concerned with forcing his “system” in an effort to save his job than developing his rookie QB.
What we have seen already in this new regime is playing to Fields’ strengths. Whether that means cutting the field in half, rolling him out to keep pressure off of him, or going play action to help his rhythm. All of those things not only help him, but help the rest of the offense as well. Knowing how to maximize your personnel and disguising their weaknesses is the number one job of any coach. Doing so allows them to play freely. Young athletes are at their best when they don’t have to think and can simply react to what their eyes are showing them.
As the year moves along we will see Fields begin to dissect defenses rather than react to what happens after the snap. For now though, the Bears staff is doing their jobs in protecting their quarterback of the future by organically bringing him along.
Why Fields Will Have A Big Year Despite Narrative Of Having “Less”
In 12 games last season Fields put together a fairly respectable campaign that saw him steadily progress as the year went. 1,870 yards 7 Tds 10 INTs and over 400 yards on the ground doesn’t sound like a lot to be excited about. Now, take into consideration he did that with one legitimate target, the worst O-line in the league, and an incompetent play-caller. That’s not too shabby. The biggest improvement surrounding Fields will have to be the offensive line. Again, play calling is half of the equation when it comes to protecting a quarterback.
Chicago’s receiving options are what have taken the most slander this offseason. The narrative of the Bears having no weapons has taken on a life of its own. Chicago is a large market with a passionate fanbase that will make it known when they don’t like what you have to say. Essentially the fanbase is low hanging fruit for media personalities to get their clicks. Referring to players like Darnell Mooney, who tallied nearly 1,100 yards on 81 receptions, as “a fifth round draft pick” is disrespectful. Another offseason of chemistry building and plenty of bulletin board material for the young QB/WR duo will be lethal for opposing secondaries.
One name that many don’t know outside of Chicago is tight end Cole Kmet. Tight end is a difficult position to develop and after catching 60 passes for over 600 yards last season, tripling his output from the year before, he looks primed to breakout along with his quarterback. New offensive coordinator Luke Getsy did a great job of incorporating Rob Tonyan in Green Bay. Kmet should benefit greatly becoming a major piece in the new offense.
The only piece to the puzzle that doesn’t need vouched for is the Bears running back room. David Montgomery and his counter part Khalil Herbert will be one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. The two perfectly compliment each other and offer many different threats to the opposing defenses. Montgomery reads blocks perfectly and delivers punishment to anyone that gets in his way. Herbert can run in between the tackles and if you give him an inch of space he’s going to make you miss. The only problem they will face is making sure both backs get plenty of work.
Transcendent Quarterback Play Can Elevate Bears Offense
The Chicago Bears will have more pieces around their signal caller than many will give credit for. Every player that wasn’t a first round draft pick was a nobody until they became a somebody. The Bears have a lot of candidates who fit that bill and many will end up not working out. With that being said they will have some solid foundational pieces on the offense to build on and the greatest piece is QB1. Packers and Patriots have proven a great quarterback can take an average supporting cast to the next level.
It takes a special mentality to take the lumps Justin took last year. Not just physically on the field, but the mental gymnastics he had to do to handle an incompetent coaching staff bent on propping him up for failure. That drive and discipline is what has separated him his entire football career. When things get tough he puts his head down and works harder. Not once has he made an excuse, he quietly handles his business. His humble character allows him to demand excellence from his teammates. The Bears for the first time have exactly what the rest of the league wants. Now they just have to unlock the potential.
For More Great Football Content
Follow us on Twitter at @GridironHeroics for more great content. We appreciate you taking time to read our articles. To interact more with our community and keep up to date on the latest in Football news, JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP by CLICKING HERE
Pingback: Why Bears Can Steal One In Lambeau - Gridiron Heroics