The Chicago Bears are changing offensive and defensive schemes in 2022, and while they made several changes to the roster, there are some vets coming back that need to bounce back after a down 2021 season.
I asked the WCG crew a few questions for an offseason roundtable, and here’s the first one I posed to them.
Who will bounce back for the Bears in the 2022 season?
We had so many of our team jump in with an answer on this topic that I split it into two parts; one for the offense and one for the defense.
Here are our picks on defense for the Bear most likley to bounce back.
Jacob Infante: I think Eddie Jackson bounces back for the Bears in 2022. While I don’t think it’s fair to expect him to revert back to his All-Pro self, I believe that Jaquan Brisker is a perfect fit alongside him in the secondary. He’s the closest thing Chicago has had to Adrian Amos since they actually had him on the roster. Having a safety who is not only a force in coverage but a threat against the run could open up some opportunities for Jackson to make plays and roam free up high.
Rahul Ramachandran: I’ll go with Jackson. He’s struggled mightily over the past two years with just about everything (coverage, tackling, takeaways, boneheaded plays, etc.), so if there’s a time to bounce back it’s this year. He has a do-it-all safety alongside him once again in Brisker, so that will create opportunities to free roam - something he excelled at in 2018. I’ll be honest. My confidence level in a career resurrection is low. But at this point, it really feels like an up-or-out year for Eddie Jackson. I’m hoping against hope he’ll rise up.
Ken Mitchell: Eddie Jackson, this defense is much more suited to his skillset and this coaching staff is going to hold him accountable (unlike in the past after Vic left).
Peter Borkowski: A popular pick appears to be Eddie Jackson, and I think that’s for good reason. If there is a season for Bojack to bounce back, it’s this one. The secondary around him is young and exciting, with the likes of Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordan, Jaquan Brisker, and Thomas Graham Jr. all showing signs of forming what could be an elite unit. I think Jackson works best when he has a great supporting cast; in 2018, his best season, he was working with Kyler Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Adrian Amos, and Bryce Callahan. When Jackson has competent help around him, he can take some of those risks that made him such a turnover machine in his early days because he knows the rest of the secondary can cover him if that risk does not go well (which they haven’t been the past couple seasons). So, between an improved secondary to support his risk-taking nature, as well as a defensive minded coach, I think we see a Bojack more reminiscent of 2018 than 2021.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter: I feel like this almost has to be Eddie Jackson. He hasn’t registered an interception in two years, and registered no takeaways whatsoever in 2021. This is a drastic decline in playmaking ability compared to what we witnessed in his first three seasons in the NFL. A part of that can be contributed to what has been just bad fundamentals all across the secondary since 2019.
What bodes well for Eddie is a return to concepts he’s greatly familiar with since his days of playing for Nick Saban at Alabama. The Bears under Matt Eberflus and Alan Williams will not be running the traditional Tampa 2 as most people assume. It’ll be a blend of concepts, including the pattern matching concepts reminiscent of Alabama’s defense. As Eddie said himself in interviews lately, the scheme is going to be more simplistic in terms of coverage concepts. It’ll be more about instincts and quick reactions as opposed to who covers which receiver. Just don’t overthink coverage and make a play. We all know Eddie Jackson can make plays. This scheme will help empower him to make those kinds of splash plays more so that what we witnessed the last three seasons.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: I wanted to provide a different take for this one, so I’m going with free agent acquisition Nicholas Morrow. Before I get into Morrow, I don’t think Jackson has been as bad as the numbers appear. Does he need to play better? Most definitely, but a better secondary around him will help things. As for Morrow, he missed all of 2021 with the Raiders due to an ankle injury after a career high 11 starts in 2020, and the Silver and Black were expecting him to take a step up in play a season ago.
The Bears signed him to start at linebacker in 2022, because he’s a perfect scheme fit for Alan Williams’ defense — whether that be at the Mike or the Will — due to his coverage ability and 4.52 forty speed. He averaged 75 tackles in 2019 and 2020 while playing in less than 75% of the Raiders’ snaps, and the Bears need him to improve on those numbers this season.
Which defensive Bears’ player do you guys think will bounce back in 2022?
You can check out the offensive side of this topic right here from earlier today.