The Chicago Bears’ 2022 offseason hasn’t been fun. It kicked off with the firings of former general manager and head coach Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy. After Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus were named Chicago’s successors at GM and coach, respectively, the team’s inactivity in free agency sparked criticism, and Poles’ decision to prioritize defense with the Bears’ first two picks in the 2022 NFL Draft made it worse.
As a result, it isn’t surprising that Chicago is a popular ‘under’ team now that we’re in projection season. You know, the time of year when analysts run through schedules and predict how many wins a team will accrue. The Bears, depending on your sportsbook of choice, are projected to win anywhere between six and seven games. It’s a low bar for a club that has enough talent to threaten for a .500 record or better. And if the ball bounces the Bears’ way a few times, a 10-win season isn’t a pipe dream.
According to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, maybe it is. He’s another name on the long list of writers betting on the Bears bottoming out in 2022. At least, he doesn’t see Chicago with more than six wins. With the over/under set at 6.5 games, Tafur took the under despite plenty of variables working in the Bears’ favor.
“You can certainly convince yourself that Justin Fields will take a big jump in a new offense,” The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain wrote, “Matt Eberflus’ defense will take the ball away more, and the Bears can take advantage of a schedule that includes the Lions twice, the Falcons, Texans, Jets, Giants and Commanders, all teams with win totals of 7.5 or lower.”
Tafur isn’t buying in, though. And he isn’t alone. The majority of pundits don’t believe in the Bears. The under for Chicago is en vogue; it’s the cool thing to do. And let’s face it, it’s hard to swim upstream and argue against a narrative fueled by groupthink.
Chicago Bears have several variables in their favor in 2022
A deeper look at this Bears’ roster offers hope that eight or nine wins are possible. It begins with Fields, of course. If he has a breakout second season, all bets are off (literally). His development alone can increase Chicago’s win total by two or three games. The Bears won six games in 2021 with average to below-average quarterback play from two middling veterans and a rookie who was running for his life. If Fields takes that jump, the Bears’ win total will too.
Chicago’s defense remains strong as well. The Bears’ 2022 NFL Draft strategy was questioned in April, but now that cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker are all but entrenched as rookie starters in the secondary, the complexion of Chicago’s defense has changed. It’s leveled up. A developing quarterback complemented by a good defense is usually a formula for success.
And let’s not forget a critical factor overlooked all offseason: the coaching staff.
Eberflus isn’t just an upgrade from Nagy; he brings an entirely different reality to the organization. After just a few months on the job, it’s become apparent that Eberflus is a better leader. He’s smarter. He can articulate his vision, and he has a clear plan. These are things Nagy failed miserably at. He’s probably still searching for the ‘why.’
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is part of this too. The Bears finally have a play-caller with a plan. Nagy mashed buttons and hoped for the best. Getsy has a philosophy that he learned under some of the NFL’s top offensive minds. He’ll be critical to Fields’ progress in 2022, and thank god it’s him. Another year with Nagy coaching Fields would’ve broken the most promising quarterback Chicago’s ever rostered.
Is it possible the Bears only win six games? Sure. Injuries are always a factor. And, of course, Fields could turn out to be a flop. But that seems unlikely. I don’t know how many games Chicago will ultimately win in 2022, but it’ll be more than six, that’s for sure.
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today. His NFL Draft and Bears coverage has also been featured on The Draft Network.