Most of our roundtable topics this week have had a positive slant to them, but this one could be taken in the other direction.
What/who will suffer the biggest regression in 2023 for the Chicago Bears?
Aaron Leming: Defensive Line/Pass rush. I’m not sure you can count something as “regression” when they were already so bad, but I do not feel great about the Bears’ defensive front four. Sure, they added plenty of new names, but outside of Yannick Ngakoue, where is the pass rush coming from? I expect their back seven to be vastly improved, but if they can’t get to the quarterback consistently, how much will the final seven defenders matter? It takes time to rebuild the trenches, but with no real “big swings,” it’s hard to see how this group isn’t bottom five in the league again.
Jack Salo: Darnell Mooney. Coming off a season derailed by injury, I understand people who may draw on the past as they look for another 1000-yard season from the young receiver, but the Bears’ moves lately may have bumped him from the top receiving option to the third behind DJ Moore and Chase Claypool. Mooney will turn 26 this season, with plenty of football ahead of him, but this could be his last in Chicago.
Ken Mitchell: (Editor: Ken let it be known that he would not be participating in the spirit of this topic by sending us this GIF, but he did chime in with an unconventional response that you can read after Michael Clarke Duncan’s classic line)
Ken: Staley. He’s going to go back to the “old props” well, much too often this season—time to update his routines.
Josh Sunderbruch: Justin Fields (the runner): For the Bears to win consistently, Fields is going to need to learn to trust the players around him. He will probably retain the ability to threaten defenses with his legs for years to come, but relying on his legs will need to give way.
Sam Householder: It’s difficult because they were so bad at so many things last year that it’s tough to say any of those areas could go backward. So then I think it has to be the run game. The Bears were one of the best last year. I think with the (hopeful) upgrades in the passing game, they won’t be so reliant on JF1 to run it, and the rushing totals slouch from last season.
Erik Duerrwaechter: The running game. Where I expect the Bears to have success in the run game, I don’t expect it to be anywhere within the top five. Let alone number one in the league. There will be a much larger emphasis on the passing game this season. Frankly, if we don’t see a substantial dip in designed rushing attempts this year, then something incredibly bad has happened on offense. This will be considered a “positive” regression.
Steven Schweickert: Justin Fields’ Run Game. Because hopefully, he doesn’t need to run for his life as much anymore.
Jeff Berckes: Record in one-score games. The Bears were 2-7 in those games last year, and with a team growing together, I’d expect them to win more of those closely contested games and regress (positively!) back to the mean.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: First off, kudos to most of our guys for putting a positive spin on this topic! My pick for Bear most likely to regress, is safety Jaquan Brisker. There’s no way he leads the team in sacks again.
Where do you see the biggest regression in 2023 for the Bears?