Training camp is an interesting part of the NFL calendar. It is part fan excitement. Part organizational misinformation. Part media scrambling to find stories where stories do not exist. Part me arguing on social media about the complete lack of value in preseason game reps. But it’s all…interesting? It gives us something to do. And sometimes we learn things.
So, what did we learn about the Chicago Bears during this 2022 camp?
Item #1. The H.I.T.S. Concept Works
It drew a lot of laughter at the introductory press conference of the coach/GM, but Eberflus’ H.I.T.S. concept has been remarkably visible on both the practice field and preseason pitch. These players run. They flock to the football. They gang tackle. This is not going to be the most talented roster in the NFL, by any means, but it looks to be a roster that will rarely be outworked on game day. And those types of teams are very easy to get behind.
Item #2. Cole Kmet Might Take “The Leap”
I texted someone inside the building and asked one question. “What player is having a killer summer that no one is talking about?”
Text back, one word. “Kmet.”
Here are my thoughts when it comes to Kmet:
- He doubled his production from year one to year two.
- His touchdown numbers were heinous in 2021 because Matt Nagy was obsessed with Jimmy Graham in the red zone.
- Justin Fields has a definitive rapport with Kmet.
- Getsy’s offense is going to incorporate the tight end screen far more and Kmet is uniquely built to be productive on those calls.
- Darnell Mooney is a very good receiver but isn’t every defensive coordinator going to try to take him away? The Bears don’t really have a second receiver. Kmet will fill that void.
Item #3. The Emergence of Courtney Cronin on the Beat
Beat writing an NFL team in the age of social media is a distinct art. You need to accurately report what you are seeing in front of you, keep up fan interest/excitement, but also refrain from overly editorializing because followers are waiting to pounce on every word. Cronin is brilliant and has climbed near the top of my Bears Beat Power Rankings, trailing only the legendary Adam Jahns by 1.4 points. (There is not point system. I made that deficit up.)
Item #4. This is a Flexible Coaching Staff
This was covered in a piece I wrote Sunday. Here is an excerpt:
The Bears know who they are. And that is refreshingly unlike them.
It would have been easy for Eberflus, Poles, Chris Morgan, etc. to plop their recently-signed veteran offensive linemen into the starting lineup and lean on their experience to stabilize the position group. Riley Reiff and Michael Schofield would not have elevated the 2022 OL to the status of good (or even almost good) but it would have elevated the floor of that room’s potential to not terrible.
But that is not what this leadership did.
Young players are going to be given a chance to prove themselves on the field this season.
Item #5. We Still Don’t Know What to Expect from Justin Fields.
The most important question for the 2022 season: is Fields the guy?
This summer didn’t do much to answer that question.
Mechanics are a work in progress. Still some short throw inaccuracy. Still some absolutely brilliant plays. Everyone who works with Fields is impressed by his tenacity, his work ethic, his desire to be great, etc. But it has to translate to the Sunday where the score counts. Nothing we’ve seen this summer feels like a preview of things to come.