There’s no way around it: expectations are low for the Chicago Bears this season. Heck, Louis Riddick of ESPN even went as far as to say that they’ll be the worst team in the league. And while that may be taking things too far, the lack of expectations should be music to the ears of new General Manager Ryan Poles and Head Coach Matt Eberflus.
With an entirely new regime and a not super trigger-happy ownership group, both Poles and Eberflus aren’t under a ton of pressure to perform this year. No one is expecting the Bears to make the postseason and contend for a title. Not in the first year. So they can focus solely on building a foundation… the right way.
Speaking on the Redline Radio podcast, de-facto top receiver Darnell Mooney said the coaching staff may already be well on their way to laying the groundwork. It seems Eberflus has ‘a plan’ in place and players know what to expect when they come to work every day. Imagine.
And I think that’s what most fans want to see. They just want to see a plan. I said it on Locked On Bears a few weeks ago, in fact. They want to be able to buy into what Poles and Pace are doing, and starting with the offensive building blocks may be the quickest way to do it.
Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy will have a lot to do with that. Coming from Green Bay, where he was quarterbacks coach to none other than Aaron Rodgers, he’ll now be tasked with the development of second-year quarterback Justin Fields. The only thing is, Fields is a drastically different quarterback than Rodgers and Getsy’s ability (or inability) to tailor the Bears’ system to Fields will perhaps make or break Bears fans’ opinions of the 2022 season.
Keeping what works with the personnel that’s already there while maximizing Fields’ dual-threat skill set should satisfy Chicago’s immediate thirst for offense. The Bears were top 10 in rushing percentage, with running back David Montgomery leading the charge to the tune of 1,150 all-purpose yards and seven total touchdowns. Montgomery can be a huge asset for Fields and the entire Bears’ offense, making it multidimensional and able to keep opponents guessing. There have already been rumblings of a bolstered play-action attack with some RPO concepts sprinkled in, which serve Fields well – and the offensive line too, for that matter.
The offensive line is another place the Bears, and Poles specifically, can earn brownie points. It’s a big question mark going into the 2022 season and Poles can do his former life as a trench dweller proud by developing some of the Bears’ late-round draft picks into starters. Braxton Jones was taking first-team reps during the team’s mandatory minicamp – and while you should never read too much into football in shorts and t-shirts in the middle of June, it’s still an encouraging sign. Besides, if you can’t trust a former offensive lineman to evaluate offensive line talent, who can you trust?
Should one of those picks pan out, one has to think that qualifies as success in 2022.
Poles already proved that he and Eberflus are likely on the same page through the draft, too. Instead of taking perhaps the more popular positions like offensive tackle or wide receiver with their first picks, Poles opted for defensive backs Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker, getting fantastic value for both.
Eberflus comes from a defensive backs background, if you will. His defenses thrive on the back level’s ability to take the ball away and Poles knew that. With veteran Eddie Jackson leading the group, seeing production out of the back four (or five) can also go a long way in getting Chicago to buy what Poles and Eberflus are selling.
If Bears fans see all that, Chicago could potentially get away with not even having a winning record – though, that’s not out of the question, either.
Looking at the Bears’ schedule, which is the fourth-easiest in the league, it’s actually not hard to get to nine wins – which could even be good enough for a postseason berth. That would by far and away exceed most people’s expectations of Chicago this season and would unequivocally be seen as a successful season.
But what really matters for this team is building sustained success, and as long as there are tangible improvements this year, after everything the organization has been through, that would have to be seen as a success.
- Jun 24, 2022
- Jun 24, 2022