The 2022-2023 NFL season is just around the corner, taking off next Sunday. For the Chicago Bears, it’s a new dawn – and time to get to work. Here’s the storylines fans and analysts should be keeping track of:
Something New: Fans Hope Matt Eberflus Shines in his First Year Coaching
2022 sees Matt Eberflus begin his first official start as the head coach of the Chicago Bears. More than anything, change needs to be seen. For the past few years the Bears have been lacking in the offense department. While Eberflus is a more defensive-minded coach, with him comes a whole new coaching staff and leaders. Fans will be looking to him in good times and bad, hoping for more than the non-committal and uninspired reponses typical from previous head coach Matt Nagy. He’s looked good in preseason games so far, and many are excited to get the official season underway.
Synergy of Offense and Defense
Both the offense and defense have looked solid during preseason, with the defense being the better of the two. It is paramount that both sides of the ball keep their composure. In 2018, the Bears could get away with a subpar offense due to their defensive dominance – this is not the case anymore. The days of an offense that is “good enough” are gone. It is key that everybody performs, otherwise success will not be found. Fans hope for a new era, one where the Chicago Bears are known not just for good defense, but good offense as well.
Evolution of Justin Fields
Quarterback Justin Fields had a rookie season that was just “ok” at best. However, this wasn’t all his fault. With problems ranging from offensive line issues to coaching troubles and changing playcallers, Fields didn’t have too much help. This year fans are hoping to see less turnovers, a better hold on the ball, and more big-time throws. Fields possess some extreme athleticism, it’s time to let shine. Of course, much of this depends on the receivers as well. The Bears have a whole new core, and all eyes are wide receiver Darnell Mooney. The elite receiver is easily the fastest and best on the Bears, and many hope he and Fields can become a storied pair.
Securing Roquan Smith?
There’s been quite a bit of drama surrounding All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith (my previous article contains an overview), but the bottom line is he is back on the field. This is his last season on his rookie contract – and perhaps the most important. Yet another explosive season might grant him the leverage he needs to secure a contract matching his demands, but it’s possible that ship has already sailed. With a little luck, the Bears will keep him around for years to come. Otherwise, it’s rather bleak for Bears fans, as there is a good chance they’re saying goodbye to one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Nonetheless, here’s hoping Smith continues to be a leader and helps guide the defense to success.
A Year to Remember or A Year to Forget?
The fact of the matter is this – the Chicago Bears have a lot to gain this season. If all the new changes prove successful, a new era can begin. Fields could easily become the best quarterback in franchise history, and Eberflus could join the league of legendary Bears coaches. Alongside these keys there are smaller, but notable, issues to watch. Will the old Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky prove he is better than the Bears gave him credit for? Will the Bears regret shipping off superstar Khalil Mack? Only time will tell, but that time is coming soon.