This article is part of our Team Previews series.
After going 6-11 last year, Chicago moved on from coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace. Under the new regime, the team is in a rebuild, making minor free-agent moves and addressing the O-line and defense in the draft. The Bears are more likely to have an early draft pick in 2023 than make the 2022 playoffs.
2022 Offseason Moves – Chicago Bears
- Byron Pringle – WR (from Chiefs)
Failed to reach 600 yards in any of his three seasons with the Chiefs.
- Jaquan Brisker – S (Rd. 2, No. 48 – Penn State)
Could start at safety from Day 1 with the potential to become a star.
- Velus Jones – WR (Rd. 3, No. 71 – Tennessee)
Boasting 4.31 speed, he could become a deep threat and kick returner.
- Trevor Siemian – QB (from Saints)
The 30-year-old with starting experience should back up Justin Fields.
- Allen Robinson – WR (to Rams)
After two superior years, he busted in 2021 playing on the franchise tag.
- Khalil Mack – LB (to Chargers)
Fell short of 10 sacks in each of the past three seasons.
- Andy Dalton – QB (to Saints)
Had a 6:9 TD:INT in six starts in his only campaign with the Bears.
- Damiere Byrd – WR (to Falcons)
A depth wide receiver, he moved on to his fifth team in five years.
Chicago Bears 2022 Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Matt Eberflus (Year 1)
Offensive Coordinator: Luke Getsy (Year 1) – West Coast offense
Defensive Coordinator: Alan Williams (Year 1) – 4-3 scheme
Stats to Know for the Chicago Bears
2022 Vegas Projected Wins: 6.5 (T-25th)
2021 Record: 6-11
2021 Points Scored: 311 (27th)
2021 Points Allowed: 407 (22nd)
2021 Point Differential: -96 (24th)
2021 Run-Play Rate: 44.2 percent (9th)
2021 Offensive Snaps: 1,075 (T-14th)
2021 PFF O-Line Ranking: No. 22
2022 Chicago Bears Depth Chart
Kicker: Cairo Santos
2022 Chicago Bears Schedule
|1||Sep 11||San Francisco 49ers||1:00 PM|
|2||Sep 18||@ Green Bay Packers||8:20 PM|
|3||Sep 25||Houston Texans||1:00 PM|
|4||Oct 2||@ New York Giants||1:00 PM|
|5||Oct 9||@ Minnesota Vikings||1:00 PM|
|6||Oct 13||Washington Commanders||8:15 PM|
|7||Oct 24||@ New England Patriots||8:15 PM|
|8||Oct 30||@ Dallas Cowboys||1:00 PM|
|9||Nov 6||Miami Dolphins||1:00 PM|
|10||Nov 13||Detroit Lions||1:00 PM|
|11||Nov 20||@ Atlanta Falcons||1:00 PM|
|12||Nov 27||@ New York Jets||1:00 PM|
|13||Dec 4||Green Bay Packers||1:00 PM|
|15||Dec 18||Philadelphia Eagles||1:00 PM|
|16||Dec 24||Buffalo Bills||1:00 PM|
|17||Jan 1||@ Detroit Lions||1:00 PM|
Chicago Bears Storylines for 2022
New Coach, New GM, New Era
After the Bears sent previous coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace out the door in January, their replacements (Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles, respectively) seemed to spend their first offseason together with a long-term plan in place, moving on from stalwarts like Allen Robinson and Khalil Mack.
Then, they took a conservative approach in free agency, with the primary addition being wide receiver Byron Pringle. In the draft, they focused on defense while using later draft picks on the offensive line, but they did add a burner in third-round pick Velus Jones.
Because this regime didn't draft quarterback Justin Fields, it may not be held responsible if he doesn't pan out. However, if he shows franchise QB-level traits, they'll have him on a rookie deal for at least three more years, allowing them to make future free-agent splashes to speed up the rebuild.
As the Bears stand, they appear to have a defense in transition with no star power aside from middle linebacker Roquan Smith. On offense, running back David Montgomery is in the last year of his rookie contract, and Darnell Mooney is the most notable receiver of the bunch.
In the end, Fields likely doesn't have enough weapons to keep Chicago in high-scoring games. Assuming the offense is forced to play from behind often, it could result in fantasy opportunities for its key contributors.
The Skill Positions Beyond Mooney and Montgomery
The Bears appear to have a short list of fantasy assets at the skill positions going into this season. First and foremost, Darnell Mooney put up a 45-605-2 line in eight games after a Week 10 bye in 2021, proving that he can be productive despite being the main focus of opposing secondaries. But he doesn't have much support at wide receiver with Allen Robinson gone.
Among the group, Byron Pringle topped out at 568 yards and five touchdowns on 60 targets last year, his third working with the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes. In addition, rookie Velus Jones may be used on occasion to take the top off defenses, but he didn't have a fruitful season in college until he was 24 years old. Two newcomers, N'Keal Harry and Equanimeous St. Brown, struggled to get consistent snaps on their previous teams. To round out the WR corps, Chicago rosters 2021 sixth-rounder Dazz Newsome and a host of journeymen.
At running back, it's a good bet that David Montgomery continues to handle most of the reps, as second-year pro Khalil Herbert totaled 30 touches in the former's 13 starts last season. As for tight end, Cole Kmet doesn't have to contend with Jimmy Graham again hogging red-zone chances in 2022. Overall, aside from Mooney, Montgomery and possibly Kmet, members of the Bears offense will be difficult to rely upon.
Year 2 of Justin Fields
Judging Justin Felds on his 2021 stats may not be wise. While he managed 1,800 passing yards, seven touchdowns and nine interceptions in 10 starts, the first three included 20 or fewer passes on each occasion, and he only surpassed 30 attempts once in his first eight nods. However, in his final two appearances, Fields aired it out 72 times for 509 yards, three TDs and two picks.
Along with the elevated numbers through the air, his rushing output also increased as the year went on, from 3.8 carries for 17 yards per contest and no scores in the first four starts to 7.7 rushes for 53 yards per outing and one TD in the other six. All this in spite of a limited supporting cast, the latter of which doesn't profile to be much better this season. In any case, Fields should benefit from Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet continuing to grow as pass catchers as they embark on their third pro campaigns.
Much of Fields' outlook in the short term could hinge on improvement from the offensive line. Not only did the Bears sign experienced hands – including Lucas Patrick and Dakota Dozier, the latter of whom tore his ACL in June – four rookies selected between Rounds 5 and 7 joined the ranks. With reports that coach Matt Eberflus is catering Chicago's new offense to Fields' strengths – downfield passing and designed runs – he'll look to build on last year's progress.
Fantasy Football Stock Watch
⬆️ Rising: TE Cole Kmet
Aside from not scoring a TD last season, Kmet more than doubled his output from 2020 in each major receiving category. Between another year of development and the Bears lacking a true slot receiver, he may make a big leap.
⬇️ Falling: QB Justin Fields
After Fields showed improvement as a rookie, the organization didn't set up the 2021 first-rounder for success this year. While the Bears added speed on offense, they didn't get an alpha receiver or a primary slot option.
😴 Sleeper: RB Khalil Herbert
Herbert earned 21.8 touches per game with David Montgomery sidelined Weeks 5-8. Otherwise, Herbert never had more than five touches in a contest. If given more work, his value could soar, as he logged 4.2 YPC as a rookie.
🌟 Pivotal Player: David Montgomery
Montgomery has posted at least 1,074 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns for three consecutive seasons. In 2021, he bumped up to a career-high 20.5 touches per game as a rare three-down back. The 2019 third-rounder is seeking a big second contract, but he may need to improve his career mark of 3.9 yards per carry.
As far as Illinois sports betting is concerned, Montgomery has been a player that many bettors are considering wagering the under on for his season-long props.
Chicago Bears Injury Report
Morrow suffered an ankle injury in the 2021 preseason and missed the entire year as a member of the Raiders. After signing with the Bears as a free agent, he was on the field for June minicamp and no longer is on the injury report. He currently sits atop the depth chart at outside linebacker, giving him a chance to be a productive tackler and an asset in pass coverage. In his last two available seasons with the Raiders, Morrow posted 151 total tackles. And in the 14 games he played in 2020, he had a career year that included three sacks and nine passes defended.
CB Duke Shelley
During the second half of last season, Shelley missed four games due a hamstring issue and stint on the COVID-19 list, and in his Week 16 return, he suffered a heel injury that kept him out the last two contests. After participating in June OTAs, he's on track to be ready for the season. Although he's listed atop the depth chart at cornerback opposite Jaylon Johnson, Shelley will be in a camp battle for a starting spot. Once the Bears spent the 39th pick in this year's draft on Kyler Gordon, it's likely the team expects the rookie to work his way quickly into the lineup. Even if that happens, Shelley should remain in the mix as a slot corner.
WR Dante Pettis
In Week 8 with the Giants last year, Pettis suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery, forcing him to miss the rest of the season. Between the 49ers and Giants in his four-year career, he never reached the success of his rookie year, when he posted 467 yards and five touchdowns. In the 21 games he's played since that 2018 rookie campaign, he had a cumulative 25-272-4 receiving line. After signing a one-year deal with the Bears this offseason, Pettis hasn't had any known restrictions on the field and should be ready for training camp, when he's expected to compete for a depth role with Equanimeous St. Brown, Tajae Sharpe and Dazz Newsome.
Training Camp Battle 2022 – Chicago Bears
Behind top receiver Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle and rookie Velus Jones are expected to vie for the No. 2 wide receiver role. In three seasons with the Chiefs, Pringle saw his role increase each year, culminating in 42 catches for 568 yards and five touchdowns on 60 targets and 552 snaps. And his 9.5 yards per target was fueled by 11 grabs of 20-plus yards, so he holds big-play ability. He can function as both an outside and slot receiver, meaning it's possible he plays the former on early downs before moving inside in three-receiver sets if he earns the starting job.
Pringle's main competition appears to be Jones, who was selected in the third round of this year's draft. Jones spent four years at USC before moving to Tennessee in 2020, but he never surpassed 280 yards or three TDs in a season before last fall, when he broke out as a 24-year-old with 62 receptions for 807 yards and seven scores. It seems a bit concerning that he emerged so late, and many rookie WRs with a similar profile have struggled when getting to the NFL. The main asset that Jones brings is top-end speed (4.31 40), and he has enough size (6-0, 200) to be considered an outside option. The winner of this battle is likely to have a significant advantage in snap count over the other.