Before the season began, I believed we would see the Chicago Bears pushing for a Wild Card spot in December. If everything went well, I set their floor at seven wins, with as many as eleven. With injuries piling up and a tough schedule remaining, it looks like I will be way off on my prediction, but not for what I expected.
I balked at the idea that the Bears would be at the league’s bottom. I thought the only way that could happen would be if quarterback Justin Fields regressed from last year, a nightmare scenario for the Bears, and I was certain that would not happen. Turns out, I was right! Fields has taken great strides forward this year: he’s protecting the ball better, has more touchdowns than turnovers, and passes the all-important ‘eye test’; he looks calm, collected, and in complete control of the offense every time he takes the field.
And the results speak for themselves. Once the new offensive scheme came together under coordinator Luke Getsy following a rough start, they began putting up numbers not seen by a Bears offense since 2013. After averaging just 16 points per game in the first six weeks of the season, the Bears put up a whopping 30 points per game over the next five weeks. So when I insisted that in 2022 Justin Fields would show everyone that he has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback, I was right.
What I didn’t expect — what probably no one expected — was for the defense to be this awful, and that’s where my record prediction went off the rails. Through thirteen weeks, the defense has surrendered nearly 26 points per game, good for sixth worst in the league. And that’s including the first seven weeks of the season when they held teams to twenty points or less five times. Since then, Bears’ opponents have posted 35 points per game. You’re not going to win very often when your offense has to score a minimum of five touchdowns just to keep up.
So I’ll say it: I was wrong, dead wrong, about the Bears. They will end the year with one of the league’s worst records despite my vehement opposition to the idea just a few months ago.
However, I don’t want the naysayers and the more negative types in the media to use this as an opportunity for a victory lap; they’re still wrong, too. Anyone predicting a bottom-five finish for the Bears this year probably envisioned the usual story: a stout defense wasted by an inept offense and a listless quarterback. In reality, Justin Fields has been leading a red-hot offense on a record-breaking pace while the defense can’t stop a nosebleed. Show me that on your preseason prediction card, and you can take a bow, though I don’t suppose there will be many of you.
In the end, the Bears may end up with the best of both worlds: losing a lot of close games while, at the same time, Justin Fields proves himself to be a force to be reckoned with, thus positioning themselves to either select an immediate difference-maker on defense in the draft or trade back and add a haul of premium picks. It stinks to watch your team lose week in and week out, but that bright glimmer at the end of the tunnel looks awfully nice.