The Chicago Bears are entering the 2023 season with a great deal of optimism. There are plenty of reasons to feel good about this team, starting with QB Justin Fields and the revamped offense, and continuing to the defense with upgrades at linebacker and the secondary.
But just because Bears fans are optimistic doesn’t mean there aren’t players on the roster who create some anxiety.
We polled the Bears Talk staff to see which players they’re most concerned about as training camp approaches later this month.
Check it out.
I’d be lying if I said I was 100% confident in Chase Claypool this season. Yes, he’s overflowing with physical gifts and exploded onto the NFL scene as a playmaking freak as a rookie when he scored 11 total touchdowns.
In the two years since, he’s scored only three times.
I want to believe in Claypool; few guys have his measurables, and we’ve seen him produce at a high level in his career. But until he proves he has chemistry with Justin Fields and can be a reliable receiver on a weekly basis, I’ll hedge my bet on DJ Moore and Darnell Mooney being the leaders of this year’s receiver group.
Cody Whitehair is the guy I’m most concerned about entering 2023.
Yes, he was a Pro Bowler at Center in 2018, but that was five years ago. He’s the only one of the starting five on that offensive line who I have doubts about hitting their ceiling or taking a step forward next season.
I hope I’m wrong, but even if Whitehair is just okay in 2023, it would still be a massive improvement over last year’s starting Center.
Cairo Santos had a roller coaster 2022 season. Looking at his true field goal percentage, he finished the season at 91.3%, which was good for seventh in the league.
However, Bears fans remember a stretch when Santos missed three XPs in five weeks, which may have cost the team a win or two. Santos attributed this to a visual issue, made some adjustments, and was able to get it corrected by the end of the season.
Missing a few XPs when you are a three-win team is one thing, but if Poles wants this team to be NFC North contenders, a bad kicking stretch in the middle of the season could be the difference between seven wins and nine wins.
(I think) like many fans, the guy that I’m most concerned about entering the 2023 season is Chase Claypool.
Since joining the Bears, Claypool has tallied 14 receptions for 140 yards in seven games. That’s an underwhelming stat line, to say the least. And while I was initially optimistic that a full offseason to work with Fields and Getsy would make 2023 a much better season, the inconsistency in recent stories ranging from Claypool’s “lack of motivation” to “night and day” differences (in comparison with the 2022 season) are way too juxtaposed for me to buy into either.
I need to see some execution on the field before I buy a ticket to the “Chase is Back” show. Top that off with it being a contract year for Claypool, and there’s a lot of pressure on him heading into the 2023 season.