The Chicago Bears’ wide receiver room has been a hot topic around the NFL lately, and not for good reason. Bears fans and NFL media alike have been relentless in their call for Ryan Poles and Co. to provide Justin Fields with better weapons. Some have even suggested that it is being purposefully ignored because the Bears’ new brass isn’t sold on Fields.
Despite some solid free agent wide receivers hitting the market and what many called a deep draft for the position, Poles stuck to his guns and refused to overspend or overdraft.
The Bears lost Allen Robinson, Marquise Goodwin, and Damiere Byrd to free agency. On the flip side, Poles brought in veterans Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, Tajae Sharpe, and David Moore.
What’s similar about all of the newly signed players is that they are younger veterans with hunger and drive. Unfortunately, what’s also similar is that none have yet made themselves a reliable number one or two target for their previous teams.
The Bears selected Velus Jones Jr. in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft as their only WR addition through the draft. Jones is an older prospect but through his experience, he carries a chip on his shoulder and an understanding for adaptation. He burst onto the scene last year at Tennessee with 62 receptions, 807 yards, and 7 touchdowns.
The one familiar face left in the receiver room is Darnell Mooney. The room went through a complete rehaul but luckily, so did the offensive coaching staff.
Let’s get one thing straight. The weapons around Justin Fields are not good. On paper, they are at the bottom of the NFL. But there’s a sliver of optimism for the offense floating around Chicago, and here’s some of the reasons why.
Maybe the most important person in Halas Hall that is being charged with helping this offense exceed expectations is new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Most of Getsy’s focus on offense will be developing Justin Fields but don’t count out his potential to turn this receiver room into a solid group.
Getsy comes to Chicago from Green Bay where he served many roles including quarterbacks coach, wide receivers coach, and passing game coordinator. He will be tasked with combining his experience in these positions and crafting his own offense for the first time in his professional career.
During OTA’s, Byron Pringle met with the media and was asked about the value Getsy brings to the wide receivers specifically. Pringle explained Getsy’s knowledge of progressions and the importance of timing in the new offense as ways the new offensive coordinator will help not only the receivers, but Justin Fields too.
With his experience as passing game coordinator, expect Getsy’s offense to be focused on progressions and to be as quarterback-friendly as possible. This should be a welcome thought for Bears fans after watching a struggling offense the last two seasons heeded by young quarterbacks who seemingly struggled with going through progressions.
The receiver with the most familiarity with Getsy and his style is Equanimeous St. Brown, who followed Getsy from Green Bay to Chicago. St. Brown never quite came onto the scene in Green Bay but Getsy must have seen something he liked.
Even if St. Brown doesn’t turn out to be a top option for Justin Fields, he will be comfortable with Getsy’s verbage and ideas and will be able to help teach the scheme to others.
Aside from the new offensive playbook and play caller, Cole Kmet’s usage in 2022 could prove essential for the receiving corps’ success.
Kmet is entering his third year in the NFL and has yet to prove himself as a substantial threat in the passing game. Many people around Chicago and even the NFL have predicted a Cole Kmet breakout season in the cards.
Two things that were heavily criticized in the Matt Nagy offense were the red zone offense and the use of tight ends. With a wide receiver room that lacks height, expect the Bears to find creative ways to get tight ends open in the endzone.
In Kmet’s media session during OTA’s, he called the new offense "advantageous for tight ends". Kmet mentioned that while it’s early, he is able to see how tight ends will be used in the run scheme and how they can make an impact off of that in the pass game.
He also mentioned the notable recent successes from Robert Tonyan of the Packers and George Kittle of the 49ers in their similar offensive schemes, and how he can learn from them.
Kittle is one of the league’s premier tight ends and has been at the top of his game while playing in the ‘Shanahan scheme’ under Kyle Shanahan. Tonyan broke out for the Packers after being introduced to Matt LaFleur and Getsy’s offense.
If there’s anyone on the roster set to benefit the most from the new offensive scheme, it can be argued that Cole Kmet is that guy.
While fans are clamoring for better help on the offensive side of the ball, Ryan Poles and the Bears’ front office know that there will be growing pains. Fields believes in the receivers he has and knows that he has to be better too.
The Bears are not expected to be contenders in 2022 so instead of wishing the organization kept Khalil Mack or traded for D.K. Metcalf, the focus should be on succeeding with the current roster and reevaluating once the training wheels are kicked off.