The Chicago Bears 2022 season didn’t go how the coaches and players had hoped, but from an organizational standpoint, they must believe they’ve laid the foundation for the future. The H.I.T.S. philosophy permeated throughout the organization, the culture underwent a much-needed makeover, they have over $100 million in cap space and the number overall draft pick, and most importantly, they figured out they have a quarterback with a particular set of skills.
Most of our fans are confident that Justin Fields is the man at QB moving forward, and once general manager Ryan Poles bolsters the talent around him, it’s not out of the question that the Bears could have much better fortunes in 2023.
Chicago’s (3-14) record was disappointing, but the team and players reached several milestones and even set a few records. The NFL sent out a memo listing these for all 32 teams, and here’s what they shared about the Bears (in blockquotes) with my thoughts in italics.
CHICAGO led the NFL with 3,014 rushing yards and became the fifth team ever with at least 3,000 rushing yards in a season, joining the 2019 BALTIMORE RAVENS (3,296 rushing yards), 1978 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (3,165), 1973 BUFFALO BILLS (3,088) and 2020 BALTIMORE RAVENS (3,071).
The 17th game obviously aided that 3K milestone, but it was great to see the offense display an identity after the previous regime struggled to figure out what they were.
From Weeks 6-10, CHICAGO became the first team in NFL history with at least 225 rushing yards in five consecutive games and the third team in NFL history with at least 200 rushing yards in five straight contests, joining the 1972 PITTSBURGH STEELERS (seven consecutive games) and 1951 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (six).
Chicago’s offense was clicking during that stretch while averaging 28.2 points per game in those five. And that was with the 7 point, Thursday night stinker factored in.
QB JUSTIN FIELDS had 1,143 rushing yards this season and surpassed MICHAEL VICK (1,039 rushing yards in 2006) for the second-most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history. Only LAMAR JACKSON (1,206 in 2019) had more.
From Weeks 7-11, became the second player in the Super Bowl era with at least one touchdown pass and one rushing touchdown in five consecutive games, joining KYLER MURRAY (five consecutive games in 2020). Became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to rush for a touchdown in six consecutive games (Weeks 7-11, 13).
Had three rushing touchdowns of at least 50 yards in 2022, the most in a single season by a quarterback in NFL history and the most career 50-yard touchdown runs by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
Has four career games with at least 100 rushing yards, tied with RUSSELL WILSON (four games) for the third-most such games by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era. Only LAMAR JACKSON (12 games) and MICHAEL VICK (10) have more.
Had three games with at least 100 rushing yards this season and is the fourth quarterback with at least three games of 100-or-more rushing yards in a season in the Super Bowl era, joining LAMAR JACKSON (five games in 2019), MICHAEL VICK (three in 2004 and three in 2006) and RUSSELL WILSON (three in 2014).
In Week 9, rushed for a career-high 178 yards and surpassed MICHAEL VICK (173 rushing yards on December 1, 2002) for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a regular-season game since at least 1940.
In Week 9, became the first player in NFL history with at least three touchdown passes, 150 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in a single game.
In Week 10, became the fourth player in league annals to record a 50-yard touchdown pass and 50-yard rushing touchdown in the same game, joining LAMAR JACKSON (2022), CAM NEWTON (2012) and Pro Football Hall of Famer ACE PARKER (1938).
In Weeks 9-10, became the first quarterback since TOBIN ROTE (Weeks 8-9, 1951) with at least 125 rushing yards in consecutive games and his 325 rushing yards over those two games are the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a two-game span in NFL history.
In Week 11, became third quarterback in the Super Bowl era with at least 75 rushing yards in three consecutive games within a single season, joining JOSH ALLEN (three consecutive games in 2018) and LAMAR JACKSON (three consecutive games in 2019).
Fields was one of the most electryfing players in the game at times a season ago, and I can’t wait to see what he can do with a revamped offensive line and some more weapons at his disposal.
RB DAVID MONTGOMERY had 1,117 scrimmage yards (801 rushing, 316 receiving) and six touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving). He’s one of five running backs with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and five rushing touchdowns in each of the past four seasons, along with NICK CHUBB, DALVIN COOK, DERRICK HENRY and JOSH JACOBS.
Montgomery is a good football player, and while the coaching staff clearly values what he brought to the offense, they may want a more explosive option as the RB1. I’d like to see him return if the price is right, because he’d benefit from a better offensive line and more offensive options. Regardless on who ends up as the lead back, that player better be able to add something in the passing game as a blocker and receiver.
TE COLE KMET ranked tied for third among tight ends with a career-high seven touchdown receptions.
Kmet led the team in receptions (50), receiving yards (544), TD catches (7), and his 72.5 catch percentage was a career high.
LB NICHOLAS MORROW set career highs with 116 tackles and 11 tackles for loss.
The 27-year old Morrow is a free agent, and his ability to play all three linebacking positions means letting him go isn’t a foregone conclusion. He played 2022 on a 1 year, $3 million deal, and that is probably the ballpark he’d get on the open market.
DB JAQUAN BRISKER ranked fourth among rookies with 104 tackles and led all rookie defensive backs with four sacks, tied with BILL BATES (four sacks in 1983) and DESMOND KING (four in 2017) for the most sacks by a rookie defensive back since 1982.
I’ll predict that Brisker will not lead the Bears in sacks in 2023.