The Chicago Bears are set to kick off the 2022 season on Sunday, Sept. 11 at noon CT against the San Francisco 49ers, and if you’re not accustomed to a massive overhaul of your favorite team, allow us to recap all that has changed since the Bears last played a real game.
The Bears didn’t waste much time following their 11th loss of the 2021 season, when the franchise fired both general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy on Black Monday. Fifteen days later, on Jan. 25, 2022, the Bears hired Ryan Poles as their new GM, then just two days after that, Poles brought Matt Eberflus on board as their new head coach.
The new Ryan and Matt had a cohesive vision for what they wanted the team to be, and that vision didn’t have much to do with the previous regime’s players or scheme. They released, traded, or refused to re-sign 36 players from the 2021 season.
Among the more prominent names who are no longer in Chicago, Khalil Mack was shipped off for second and sixth-round picks, Allen Robinson inked a new deal with the Rams, and Akiem Hicks signed with the Buccaneers.
The only unrestricted free agents the team brought back were safety DeAndre Houston-Carson and long snapper Patrick Scales. The only exclusive rights free agents still in Chicago are Sam Mustipher and Lachavious Simmons (who landed on the practice squad).
Head coach Eberflus brought in his new 4-3, Tampa 2ish defensive scheme, and he hired Alan Williams to call that for him. He wanted a Mike/Kyle Shanahan style of offense, so Luke Getsy was brought over from Green Bay to serve as his offensive coordinator.
Williams has been with Eberflus from 2018 to 2021, but his first NFL job was in 2001 with the Godfathers of the Tampa 2, Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin. He spent eight years with Dungy, so he’s well schooled in the scheme.
Getsy was with the Packers for the last three years learning the Shanahan style of offense under Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur, who has been working in the scheme since 2008. Getsy also has experience in a spread/RPO offense and a West Coast offense, but his work with LaFleur earned him his this opportunity.
And the opportunity to work with second-year quarterback Justin Fields had to be a big selling point for Getsy, as the entire coaching staff has talked up how they’ll build the offensive scheme around Fields’ skill set.
The Bears may have revamped the entire coaching staff, but they took a calculated approach to free agency. The state the salary cap was left in made it tough to make a splash, and GM Poles seemed content to let the market come to him with an eye toward the 2023 season.
Some of the names they brought in that are expected to see significant playing time were center Lucas Patrick, linebacker Nicholas Morrow, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, three-technique defensive tackle Justin Jones, and wide receivers Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown.
On NFL Draft weekend, Chicago made a flurry of trades that netted them the team’s largest class, 11 players, since they had 12 in 2008.
- Round 2: Pick 39 - Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
- Round 2: Pick 48 (from L.A. Chargers) - Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
- Round 3: Pick 71 - Velus Jones, WR, Tennessee
- Round 5: Pick 168 (From Buffalo) - Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah
- Round 5: Pick 174 (From Cincinnati) - Dominique Robinson, EDGE, Miami (O.H.)
- Round 6: Pick 186 - Zachary Thomas, OL, San Diego State University (practice squad)
- Round 6: Pick 203 (From Buffalo) - Trestan Ebner, RB, Baylor
- Round 6: Pick 207 (From Houston) - Doug Kramer, iOL, Illinois (injured reserve)
- Round 7: Pick 226 (From Cincinnati) - Ja’Tyre Carter, OL, Southern
- Round 7: Pick 254 (From L.A. Chargers) - Elijah Hicks, S, Cal
- Round 7: Pick 255 - (From L.A. Chargers) - Trenton Gill, P, North Carolina State
Among the team’s initial 17-man undrafted free agent rookie class, Wisconsin linebacker Jack Sanborn seems to be the gem and managed to land a spot on the Bears’ final 53-man roster.
The Bears went through their offseason program and traded for wideout N’Keal Harry (who landed on injured reserve to start the season), and then on the eve of training camp, they added veteran free agent offensive lineman Riley Reiff to bolster the trenches.
Next time out, I’ll go over how things with the new additions are going for the Bears as I look forward to the start of the 2022 season.
According to our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook, the current over/under win total for the Bears is 6.5, so how many of the new faces will need to come through for the 2022 Bears to go over that number?