While the summer season brings much enjoyment to the average person, for an NFL fan, it represents a desolate wasteland where Sundays just aren't quite as vibrant as in the autumn months. However, with each passing day, we inch closer to the beginning of the 2023 NFL season, which officially kicks off on September 8 this year.
Whether you've had your favorite team's tweet notifications turned on all summer or if you've decided to tune out all football news entirely, you'll be able to learn everything you need to know about your team going into the 2022-23 season right here.
In today's article, I'll be discussing the Chicago Bears.
I'm working on season guidebooks for all 32 NFL teams, which will all be released within the next few weeks. To check out another team's guidebook, click here:
2021 Season Recap
2021 was a frustrating year for Bears fans. With an unintentional two-quarterback system in place for much of the season, it was tough for both Andy Dalton and Justin Fields to get anything going in Matt Nagy's offense. Chicago finished near the bottom of the league in offensive efficiency and the defense struggled mightily against the better offenses they faced.
The Bears cleaned house in the offseason, firing Nagy and replacing him with another defensive-minded head coach, Matt Eberflus. Chicago will look to reestablish the defensive prowess they have long been known for in 2022, though I'm sure Bears fans would love to see their team have a productive offense for the first time in what feels like forever.
Significant Roster Moves
Eberflus' job won't be an easy one, as the Bears lost several key pieces on both sides of the ball in the offseason. The length of both of the above columns means there will be lots of fresh faces in Chicago. LB Khalil Mack and DT Akiem Hicks both chose to sign deals elsewhere, being the biggest names departing the defense. C James Daniels, OT Jason Peters and WR Allen Robinson are the most impactful losses on offense.
Former Chief Byron Pringle and the mysterious N'Keal Harry formerly of the Patriots join the wide receiver corps and will be the biggest replacements for Robinson. The Bears signed a handful of linebackers and D-linemen to attempt to regroup the defense, along with a couple proven offensive linemen to protect Justin Fields.
2022 Draft Class
Chicago had a whopping eleven selections in this year's draft, but given the fact that eight of them came in the fifth round or later, most guys will likely start as reserves who attempt to work their way into the starting lineup as the season progresses.
S Jaquan Brisker and WR Velus Jones, Jr. have already cracked the unofficial starting lineups, along with Trenton Gill, the punter taken in the final round. Kyler Gordon will also get to immediately see plenty of opportunities at corner in the thin Chicago secondary. The Bears took four offensive linemen this draft, filling in much needed depth on that front.
The Bears will take on the NFC East and the AFC East to go along with their six divisional games. Their other three opponents are the San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, and Atlanta Falcons. With an opponent prior season win percentage of .471, Chicago has the 9th easiest schedule in the NFL.
Chicago's primetime games include one Thursday night game versus Washington, one Sunday night game at Green Bay, and one Monday night game at New England. They also play on Saturday, Christmas Eve versus Buffalo.
The Bears return only 11 of their 22 offensive and defensive starters from a season ago, well below average for all teams across the league. This is indicative of the rebuild mode Chicago is clearly undertaking currently. It appears that the Bears are rolling with Justin Fields as their quarterback of the future, at least for the time being.
This team is really young, which limits their short-term potential but provides a flicker of hope for a Bears fanbase that hasn't seen their team make it past the Wild Card round of the playoffs in 12 years now.
Matt Eberflus was hired in the offseason to become the 17th head coach in Chicago's franchise history. He joins the Bears immediately after serving as defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts for four years. Eberflus brought an all new staff into the building with him, as all three coordinators enter their first seasons in Chicago as well.
Oddsmakers have set the regular season win total for Chicago at 6.5 games. As of right now, the Bears are the least likely team to win the NFC North and the 3rd least likely team to win the NFC. At +15000 to win the 2023 Super Bowl, they are tied for 28th among all teams in the league.
Bucket Squad Predictions
I don't have high expectations at all for the Bears this season. I think they'll get a handful of wins due to some of the weakness in their schedule, but I just think too many of the players who will contribute significant playing time are unproven. It's always tough for a first year head coach to succeed and it's apparent that Chicago is in some degree of a rebuild.
I'm picking the Bears to finish the season at 5-12, but still finish ahead of the Lions in the NFC North. We'll see if they're able to make some noise and surprise some folks when the season gets underway.
What do you think? Will Chicago be better or worse than I'm projecting? What offseason moves made by the Bears surprised you the most? Leave a comment down below and be sure to check the "NFL" section of the website for more NFL team guidebooks as I finish them.
Written by Nick Swatson