Jim Dabrowski

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2022 Chicago Bears Season Prediction

OTA's, mini-camps, rookie camps, etc. are all over, the Bears are in hibernation for a brief period and the real training camp is about to begin next week. Therefore it's time for me to talk about their off season and make my predictions for the 2022 season.

As everyone knows, the Bears fired their head coach and GM at the end of last season and replaced them with GM Ryan Poles and new Head Coach Matt Eberflus (Ryan and Matt? Again?) I'm not going to rehash all the discussion around who they hired and why or whether they are good choices. They're here and we have to wait and see how they perform.

In my opinion, Ryan Poles' primary goal this season is to see whether Justin Fields is going to be the franchise quarterback all of Chicagoland hopes he is. Like it or not, we just don't know yet. In college, he demonstrated lots of talent but his first year in the NFL was not very encouraging. Flashes of really good play combined with a lot of rookie mistakes. We can argue all day about whose fault all that was, but at the end of the day, he didn't perform all that well and we don't really know what he'll do in the future. Therefore that is Job #1 for Poles.

During the draft, Poles spent his first two picks on the defensive side of the ball leaving many fans confused and angry but I can respect the plan. With those additions and a defense-minded head coach, the Bears defense this season should be good. Not great, not the best in the league, but better than average. I think they'll certainly be in the top half of the league and may even squeak into the top 10. The defense will be good enough to keep the Bears in just about every game this season. This means that on the offensive side of the ball, winning or losing will be determined by how well Justin Fields and the rest of the offense execute. If Poles let the defense slide and focused solely on the offensive side of the ball like many fans wanted them to, they'd wind up being down 20+ points by half-time causing them to have to regularly abandon whatever offensive game plan they had. Not a good way to evaluate how Fields can play. So I like what Poles did on defense.

On the offensive side of the ball, many people wanted him to shore up the line and provide Fields with high-caliber wide receivers—and he didn't. I admit to my own concerns about the lack of overall talent on the offensive side, but disagree with the people who claim it will therefore be impossible to determine if Fields is truly a franchise QB. Regardless of how the line protects or enables the running game, regardless of whether the receivers can get open and catch the ball when thrown, we'll still be able to see whether Fields has what it takes to be a starting NFL quarterback. Does he make the right reads at the line of scrimmage and adjust the play calls accordingly? How does he react when plays break down? Does he know when to live to fight another day and throw the ball away or does he try too hard to make things happen and end up making things worse? Regardless of the team's record or his stats, by the end of the season if we're saying, "Man, if we had some better talent on this team, we'd be cruising to the playoffs and be legit Super Bowl contenders." we'll all know the future for the Bears is bright. If not, then we know we're back to looking for the QB of the future.

And now on to my prediction for the 2022 season. I'm firmly in the camp of believing Fields is a franchise QB and am looking forward to watching them this season. I predict they'll win 8 or 9 games with 2 or 3 of them due solely to Fields putting the team on his back and willing them to a win. By the end of the season we'll know he's the guy and 2023 and beyond will be looking bright for the Chicago Bears and their fans.

Go Bears!