Schrock: Five bold predictions for Bears, including Fields’ leap

The Bears ran through their preseason slate in the short order, beating the B team of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seattle Seahawks and the Cleveland Browns on their way to a 3–0 record.

Now, the game counts.

The Bears open the regular season on Sunday by welcoming Trey Lance and the San Francisco 49ers to Soldier Field.

Head coach Matt Eberfluss and general manager Ryan Poles spent the off-season looking to tear down the roster as they prepare for a lengthy rebuild. Expectations aren’t high for the 2022 Bears, but the schedule is soft, and the young talent on the roster, led by quarterback Justin Fields, should be cause for excitement.

With the arrival of the first week, it is time for the age-old tradition of making predictions that seem silly until the leaves change color. But let’s do it anyway.

Here are five can’t-miss predictions for the Bears’ 2022 season:

Bears run out of gates fast

Starting the season with the 49ers and Green Bay Packers is an uphill task for the Eberflus. The Bears get the 49ers at the best of times, Lance is still getting his feet wet in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and the internal offensive line is still trying to jail.

Still, the 49ers have a lot of talent to beat the Bears. The Bears fall 0-2 in a Week 2 trip to Green Bay, but not without a sign of hope.

Then, the soft schedule hits.

The Bears won four of their next six, defeating the Houston Texans, New York Giants, Washington Commanders and New England Patriots. A Week 8 loss to the Dallas Cowboys sees them fall to 4-4, but it’s a positive start to the Aberfluss era.

Winter comes and crushes the Bears’ playoff dreams

A 4–4 start to the season is enough to keep the Bears looking for a playoff, especially in the Down NFC.

But losses start to mount as the Bears lead 1-3 in November, and the December schedule sees the Packers, Eagles, Bills and Vikings squandering any chance of a postseason appearance. Only a New Year’s win against the Lions helps the Bears survive the winter and finish the season 6–11.

Robert Quinn’s Encore

After a historic 18.5-sack season and with the Bears beginning to rebuild, conventional wisdom suggested that star defensive end Robert Quinn would be sent out.

But it was not so.

General Manager Ryan Poles elected to keep Quinn, believing that his value to a young Bears team far outweighed the potential business return.

“I’m a big fan of Robert Quinn,” Poles said. “He’s been productive. One thing, and not saying Khaleel wasn’t there, but for Robert, he brings up one of the examples Matt wants to see out of his defense in being a relentless, high motor. The man is there. Another leader in the room who can show the way to the youth. And he’s doing a really great job.”

Prefer not to blitz too much with Aberfluss and defensive coordinator Alan Williams, this season the Bears need Quinn to be as post-quarterback as possible.

While he won’t match the mark he set last season, Quinn proves he’s still one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL and follows up his 18.5-sack campaign with 14 more this fall.

rookie hardware

Bears rookies Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker discuss their goals for their first NFL season. All-Rookie Teams, Defensive Rookie of the Year, and so on.

Gordon’s movement and coverage abilities are special. But the Bears would immediately throw the Washington product into the fire, possibly asking him to man the nickel in defense of Aberfluss. Rookie cornerbacks often face an adjustment period leading from college to the NFL. Considering the time he lost in training camp, it is reasonable to expect that there could be some early bumps in Gordon’s rookie season.

That’s just life in the NFL.

Brisker should have an easier time adjusting to the NFL. The Bears plan to ask Penn State Product to primarily handle box safety duties, while veteran Eddie Jackson rounds out the rear end.

In one of his preseason games, Brisker showed why the Bears are so over him. He’s a hard-hitting, high-IQ safety who’s always around the ball. For a coaching staff who is fanatical about takeaways, Brisker can rack up turnovers at a high clip if the ball bounces his way.

The last safety to win the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year was Mark Carrier for the Bears in 1990.

Brisker broke the streak and took home hardware in an impressive rookie campaign, finishing with 10 takeaways and 124 combined tackles.

Justin Fields, Pro Bowler

Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has his plans around the fields as the quarterback entering Year 2—an elite athlete who prefers to attack downfield with his big hand.

The Bears’ presidential finale in Cleveland showed us how Getsey’s wide-zone scheme and Fields skillset could be the perfect marriage.

While you don’t want to overvalue the preseason, I think Fields is primed for a breakout season despite the lack of weapons and a shaky offensive line.

The main reason is Getsy’s plan.

The Shanahan system has become pervasive throughout the NFL because it makes life easier at the quarterback, planning easy throws in the middle of the field with the potential for significant run-after-the-catch advantage.

With a plan that works with his strength and confidence to be the undisputed starter, Fields could explode onto the scene and secure a Pro Bowl spot in the NFC.

After Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford, the NFC is more or less a quarterback desert filled with unproven young talents like Trey Lance and Jalen Hirts, and good-but-elite stalwarts like Kirk Cousins ​​and Dak Prescott.

Whether or not Fields makes it to the first ballot or gets shuffled after the opt-out, the Bears’ second year quarterback will be in the Pro Bowl, which I believe will be a big season.

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