If you believe what you read or listen to from the National Media, then you have to come to the realization that this year's Chicago Bears offense is not going to be much better than it was in 2022. The more I read and listen to these statements, the more I realize that these statements are strictly narratives and come mostly from people who are totally uninformed as to Chicago's situation.
Yes, the Chicago Bears' offense in 2022 was horrible, but there were many reasons for that. Going into the season, they didn't really have a strong position group on the offensive side of the roster. Add to that, the players were playing in a new scheme that was not in any way similar to the scheme that former Head Coach Matt Nagy ran. Many of the players that opened the season were not real "fits" for the new scheme, but the Bears staff had no choice but to go with them.
Add to that the fact that quarterback Justin Fields was basically re-playing his rookie year. He was mismanaged as a rookie from the beginning of training camp on. So 2022 became a do-over for him. Not only did he have to learn a new scheme, but he changed his throwing mechanics a bit. In college and as a rookie, Fields had a hitch at the top of his delivery that slowed his ability to get the ball out of his hand quickly. While he tightened up his delivery, there is still a slight hitch, but we can live with that.
The scheme that the Bears now run is a very difficult scheme to learn. It requires a lot of work on timing as the receivers have multiple route adjustments to make depending on the defense being shown. It takes time for everyone to get on the same page.
At the beginning of last season, the wide receiver corps was weak, and the only player who knew the system was free agent Equanimeous St. Brown. Another free agent Byron Pringle missed a lot of time in OTAs and training camp. When General Manager Ryan Poles traded for receiver Chase Claypool at the trade deadline, many fans felt that he would upgrade the corps right away. In this scheme, that was not going to happen. To further complicate things, following the trade both Claypool and Fields missed time with injuries, so there was never really a chance for them to get comfortable with each other.
The offensive line was playing with several new faces and/or guys playing new positions, and there were injuries to add. No cohesiveness was ever formed in a position group that totally needs cohesiveness to be productive.
During the off-season, Ryan Poles brought in several players to upgrade the offense either by trade or free agency. Now there are quality players at each position group. Yes, they still have to learn to understand the scheme and play together, but that is what the off-season program and early training camp is for.
Now in his second year in the scheme and third year total as a pro, Fields should show vast improvement. If you look at other players in the League, like Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts, it was in their third year that they began to flourish. I see no reason to believe that won't happen with Fields.
Part of the process that is needed for Fields to improve is having a strong offensive line. In essence, the offensive line group will have four new starters in 2023 but not four new players. Two players are switching positions from where they played in 2022.
At left tackle will be second-year man Braxton Jones. Jones has done what is needed to improve his lower body strength, and it is my feeling that he will become one of the better left tackles in the League. His natural traits are rare. At left guard will be Teven Jenkins, who played right guard a year ago. Jenkins was drafted to play tackle in 2021, but the new regime felt his best position was guard. They were correct, as he played as well as any guard in the League when he was healthy last year. He will have an adjustment moving over to the left side, but he has played left tackle in the past, so playing from a left-handed stance should not be a problem. The right guard will be free agent signee Nate Davis. Davis has been a starter in Tennessee the last few years and is one of the more athletic and physical guards in the League. The right tackle will be rookie first-round pick Darnell Wright who the Bears felt was the best offensive lineman in the Draft. While that can be argued, the worst he was is the second-best lineman in the Draft. The center will be one of two payers. Either former left guard Cody Whitehair who played center early in his career, or Lucas Patrick, who was signed as a free agent a year ago.
Yes, I know fans are down on Patrick, but all I can say is go back and watch his 2021 tape while he was the starting center for Green Bay, and he was excellent. Either player will be a huge upgrade over Sam Mustipher. In my opinion, this line has a chance to be as good or better than the line we had in the mid-2000s when the group was John Tate, Ruben Brown, Olin Kreutz, Roberto Garza and Fred Miller. That group was strong on experience, this group doesn't yet have their experience, but they are much more athletic.
With a full offseason to jell, the wide receiver corps can be excellent. Without question, it is one of the biggest and fastest wide receiver groups in the League.
D.J. Moore was acquired from Carolina in the trade that gave them the first pick in the Draft. I compare the Bears getting Moore to the Bills acquiring Stefon Diggs in Josh Allen's third year. There will be some who may argue that, but they have no idea what they are talking about. When you look at the numbers, Moore and Diggs had very similar stats in their first five years in the League. The people who argue that Moore can't be as productive as Diggs don't realize that it wasn't until AFTER Diggs got to Buffalo that he put up the huge numbers.
Moore is 6000 – 210 and runs a 4.42. Diggs coming out was 6000 – 195 and ran 4.46. In Carolina, for his first five years in the League, Moore had 364 receptions for 5201 yards and 21 TDs. Diggs, during his first five seasons at Minnesota, had 365 receptions for 4623 yards and 30 TDs. You tell me with a straight face their careers aren't similar through five years.
Moore has a strong group to work with. The X receiver should be Claypool, who is 6042 – 230 and ran a 4.42. He was very productive his first two years in Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger at QB. His production slipped some last year with two different QBs playing and after being switched to mainly being a slot receiver which does not fit his skill set.
The slot will be Darnell Mooney, who at 5100 – 177 – 4.37 is extremely fast, explosive and has a large receiving radius. Call me crazy if you want, but that starting group is as strong as any in the League.
Tight end Cole Kmet started to come into his own last year, and he should be even better this year. Many feel Kmet underachieves, but what they don't realize is he can't be compared to the highly productive move tight ends in the League. Kmet is a Y who can be used as a move at times but is best when in-tight.
During free agency, the Bears signed a highly productive move tight end in Robert Tonyan. Tonyan runs a 4.59 and gives the Bears something they have never had at the move tight end position. That duo should be very difficult to match up against.
The Bears don't have a bell-cow type running back, but neither do most clubs in the League. This year the running back group will be a three-headed monster led by three players who all have different styles. The lead back should be Khalil Herbert, who showed in his first two years that he could be an explosive big-play runner. D'Onta Forman is a big power back with speed (4.49). He is capable of getting the tough yards as well as breaking a long run. Rookie Roschon Johnson is a combination of the two but also adds excellent receiving and pass blocking skills. Last year the Bears had the best rushing attack in the NFL, and it should be even better in 2023.
Needless to say, on paper, this offense is much improved and is loaded with guys who are capable of making big plays. Nationally they are very underrated as they probably should be but don't be shocked to see e be much more productive and high scoring than we have seen in years.