This is one of the more interesting seasons in recent memory, with the summer injecting unexpected optimism into the whole affair. So, what do I expect from the 2022 Chicago Bears?
Prediction #1. The Bears will beat their over/under number of six.
On the 2022 schedule: Giants, Jets, Texans, Commanders, Lions (twice), Falcons. Every one of those games is winnable and none of them will feature a point spread outside the 3-point margin. If Eberflus has the defense playing at a top-15 level, and he should, all of those teams are going to struggle to score on the Bears.
This is not to say the Bears will win double-digit games. But 7-10? 8-9? Even 9-8? All three seem perfectly feasible. And a side note to the prediction: this will be an inherently fun team to watch.
Prediction #2. The “starting five” will not be the “final five” along the offensive line.
Someone will flop. Braxton Jones at left tackle? Teven Jenkins at right guard? Larry Borom at right tackle? It is highly unlikely all three will find success and the Bears will have solved their offensive line woes in one off-season. Add in the waiver claim for Alex Leatherwood, with the cost associated, and it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Chris Morgan and Luke Getsy work him into the starting lineup by mid-season.
Prediction #3. The Bears will struggle to rush the passer.
The last time Robert Quinn mounted back-to-back double-digit sack seasons was 2013-14. That is eight years ago. Quinn is capable of being an elite pass rusher (see: 2021), but his career has been defined by inconsistency rather than dominance. He’ll need help on the outside and help is not on this roster unless Trevis Gipson takes a massive leap in his third season. What is more likely is the Bears are debating between pass rusher and wide receiver in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Prediction #4. Cole Kmet will score five or more touchdowns.
Rookie season: 28-243-2
Sophomore season: 60-612-0
Third season: 78-1,008-6
Kmet’s lack of touchdown production in his second year had nothing to do with him. It was entirely about the previously regime’s Jimmy Graham obsession. Graham wasn’t just playing a majority of red zone snaps but was also in Graham-specific packages that included fade routes thrown by an inaccurate quarterback to an old tight end.
With attention being paid weekly to Darnell Mooney, Kmet should be the beneficiary of mismatches over the middle and profit greatly from a red zone scheme that will work to get him open for easy scores.
Prediction #5. Justin Fields will have a breakout season.
I’m not going to get into the numbers game because the numbers are not important. A singular conclusion will be reached by the end of the 2022 campaign: Fields is the franchise quarterback the Bears have been desperate to find.