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Looking back at my 10 Most Important Chicago Bears of 2022

Lester will kick off his 10 Most Important Bears series tomorrow, but before we do that, here’s a look back at how he ranked his ten last year.

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Every time I come around to this annual series, I'm reminded just how long I've been sharing my Chicago Bears' thoughts here at WCG in an official capacity. This was the first project I was asked to do when I became a front-page contributor here in 2009, so this will be my 15th year doing a 10 Most Important Bears series.

WCG is mostly a passion project for our entire team, and whether you get your Bears fix here, on our podcast channel, or on our video channel, we appreciate all of you fans.

Before I get into my top 10 for 2023, I'll look back at the 10 I picked last year.

A season ago, the Bears struggled to a 3-14 record, so there wasn't much that went right on the field, which means the 10 Bears I ranked in importance did not come through as I was hoping. Had some of those guys performed better, the Bears would have picked up another win or two, but if we're thinking big-picture, that's probably for the best. Ending up with the worst record in the NFL gave them the first draft pick, which could positively alter the franchise for years.

When perusing my lists, keep in mind that importance is subjective. Here are the basic criteria that I came up with back in 2009 to help guide me through my initial series.

What potential impact they may have, how much the team will look to the individual for guidance or leadership, how badly the team would suffer if they lost the player to injury, and other intangible attributes.

There is no right or wrong way to rank the Bears because lists like this are more thought exercises to get us all discussing what could be for our favorite team.

You can click on the number in front of each name to see the reasoning I had in my articles from last year, and keep in mind this is the list from last season! There are always skimmers that leave comments thinking this is the 2023 list, so don't be that guy.

10) Trevis Gipson, DE - Gipson did not build off his career 2021, but he was also playing on one of the worst position groups in the NFL. Not one defensive lineman stood up, and opposing offenses were able to focus more of their attention on Trevis.

9) David Montgomery, RB - It was another workmanlike performance from Montgomery with 1,117 yards from scrimmage, but there was only so much he could do in an incomplete offense.

8) Nicholas Morrow, LB - WIth Matt Eberflius bringing his Tampa 2-esque defense over last year, he needed a linebacker to shine next to Roquan Smith. Morrow had a lot to prove coming off an injury in 2021, and he put up career-high 116 tackles while starting all 17 games.

7) Cole Kmet, TE - Shanahan-esque offenses always provide a spot for tight ends to thrive, and while the overall passing offense was bad in 2022, Kmet did catch 50 balls and score seven touchdowns. His run blocking also took a step forward.

6) Jaquan Brisker, S - There was a revolving door next to safety Eddie Jackson for a couple of years, so it was nice to see the rookie Brisker step in and start 15 games. The front four was awful, so the Bears sent Brisker after the quarterback, and he led the team with four sacks.

5) Jaylon Johnson, CB - Johnson is a good football player, but injuries may be stopping him from reaching his full potential. He only played 11 games last year with no interceptions, seven passes defended, 35 tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

4) Darnell Mooney, WR - The entire passing game struggled all year, but Mooney did get comfortable in the eight games prior to his injury. Mooney had a respectable 36 receptions for 466 yards in weeks four through eleven.

3) The Offensive Line - These guys were adequate as a run blocking unit, but their overall pass protection was an issue all season long. The growing pains of a rookie left tackle, injuries all along the interior, a starting center with no business starting, and poor depth all contributed to their struggles.

2) Luke Getsy - As a first-year play caller, I thought Getsy did about as well as expected, considering the players he was working with. He pivoted his calls to get his QB more designed runs, which I can't imagine he wants to be a part of his offense moving forward. With more weapons and a revamped offensive line, I think we'll see Getsy grow this season.

1) Justin Fields, QB - Fields certainly took a jump in play, but his biggest improvement came as a runner. However, don't overlook that his passing efficiency improved across the board too, and he did so with injuries depleting his receiving corps and some less-than pass protection.

I'll kick things off with number 10 for 2023 soon!