Lake Forest, Ill.— The Chicago Bears continue to prepare for the 2022 season and questions continue to surface about the Bears’ offense, with the biggest question mark revolving around the offensive core surrounding second-year quarterback Justin Fields. Heading into the 2022 offseason, key needs for the Bears offense included wide receiver and offensive line, with depth at running back and tight end being highlighted as smaller needs to address.
The end of May and the beginning of June will see the Bears wrap up OTA’s and mandatory minicamp at Halas Hall before a long break where players and coaches will go their separate ways, only to return during the final week of July to kick off training camp. As we look ahead to what the 2022 regular season could look like, the Bears’ offense will be under the microscope with many seeing Fields supporting cast as a reason the second-year QB isn’t set up to succeed.
Let’s get into factors, both positive and negative that will define the Bears offense in 2022.
1) The Fields to Mooney connection
When the Bears hosted the Detroit Lions in week 4 of the 2021 regular season, Fields and Mooney connected three times on the Bears opening possession for 29 yards, including a 21-yard pass to put the Bears in scoring position. Watching the game then, it was easy to conclude that the beginning of the Fields to Mooney connection had officially started, being one that could define a generation in Chicago.
Mooney, a 2020 fifth-round pick may not get the credit he deserves but his first two seasons have been more impressive than most are willing to admit. With 1686 receiving yards and 142 receptions, Mooney has quickly burst onto the scene, despite having to cycly through four different starting QBs during his first two seasons.
Moving forward, with Fields and Mooney having an entire offseason to work together, the Bears ariel attack could take a major step forward, especially with Fields as the unquestioned starter heading into training camp.
2) Chicago’s running game
Once again the strength of the offense, the Bears added some bodies to the running back room this offseason. David Montgomery returns heading into a contract year while 2021 sixth-round pick Khalil Herbert saw an increased role as the 2021 season progressed. Chicago added Trestan Ebner in the 2022 NFL Draft, a player who has experience playing a multitude of positions on both sides of the football but was a running back and return specialist in college.
While the focal point of the Bears running game will be the tandem of Montgomery and Herbert, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy would be wise to call a run-heavy offense in an effort to take pressure off Fields but also get back to old school football, wearing defenses out on the ground, opening up the passing game.
Chicago does have the potential to be among the top teams in the NFL when it comes to rushing yards in 2022. The talent is there but Getsy needs to maximize what many consider to be the deepest position group on the roster.
3) A veteran presence at Center
Uncertainty is the perfect word to describe the Bears offensive line heading into 2022. As generic as it sounds, what happens during the first few weeks of training camp will go a long way towards determining the Bears starting five offensive linemen for the regular season. The presence of Lucas Patrick only makes the Bears OL combinations more interesting.
As has been publicly stated, the Bears own expectations appears to be that the starting job is Patrick’s to lose. Olin Kreutz left town nearly a decade ago and the Bears have been searching for a stable presence at the Center position, especially one that can play at a high level. Patrick may not be a household name by any means but his presence and familiarity with Luke Getsy will go a long way towards stabilizing the Bears offense in 2021.
The Bears offense will have a learning curve to overcome in 2022 but the presence of Patrick could help speed up that entire process, including the development of Fields.
4) Luke Getsy’s scheme
Speaking of Getsy, expect the Bears offense to look more like the 49ers, with lots of outside zone concepts and a play action oriented offense. Both will cater to Fields strengths, allowing the Bears to scheme up mismatches on every play. Getsy learned under two coaches at the NFL level: Matt LaFleur and Mike McCarthy, with LaFleur’s influence being much bigger.
Considering LaFleur has direct ties to Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, both of whom come from the Shanahan coaching tree, expect the Bears offense to look a lot like the Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, and San Francisco 49ers, two of the last three NFC Champions. Getsy’s system may have his own twist but for the most part, the Bears offense should be set up to allow players to succeed.
5) The offense’s security blanket
The future at tight end for the Bears still revolves around 2020 second-round pick Cole Kmet and while Kmet did see some improvement as the 2021 season progressed, 2022 is a critical year for the Chicago area native, especially since Kmet will be eligible for an extension once the 2023 offseason commences.
Tight end is a critical part of the Bears scheme and Kmet’s ability to be an asset in the short and intermediate passing game, including his rapport with Fields should play a big role into the kinds of personnel packages the Bears opt to put on display in 2022.
The sky is the limit for Kmet, who’s production increased in 2021. Incorporating more of Kmet into the Bears passing attack could go a long way towards stabilizing the Bears ariel attack in 2022 and giving Fields a much-needed security blanket in a pass-driven league.