Work begins for the 2022 Chicago Bears season with team activities held at Halas Hall this week. Brad Biggs opens the weekly beer mailbag to find questions about Justin Fields, wide receiver choices, and the prospect of United practices this summer.
If you had to do your best to positively spin the Bears off-season for Justin Fields, how would you do that? — @theryanheckman
The first place you start Fields has a year’s experience with 10 starts under his belt. It didn’t matter that he was in a system with the coaches he no longer plays for. He now understands the difference between college and the NFL, the intricacies of reading the defense, preparing with a game plan, and studying film. All of that is beneficial and should help him in year 2, when none of that will be new to him.
What’s new in the coaching staff and playbook, led by offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. The hope is that Getsey and quarterback coach Andrew Jenko can help unlock Fields’ immense physical talent and allow him to operate more efficiently out of pocket. Fields proved last season that he can be a magician who extends plays, both rushing the ball and buying more time to make deep throws downfield. Now when the ball has to come out on time and on target, he has to pocket his level of play.
The wide zone running scheme has benefited other quarterbacks around the league, and the Bears expect the same to happen to Fields. There are legitimate questions about the offensive line, skill-positioning talent and more, but if Fields can make significant strides forward, his game could ease some of those concerns. His performance this season will largely decide what happens next season and shape the expectations for the organization.
What are the chances that the Bears add another veteran WR before camp? — @connor_ricks18
He signed a pair of experienced wide receivers – Taze Sharpe and Dante Pettis – on May 12 to a one-year contract. Those names probably don’t move the needle for you because they haven’t had much production in the last few seasons. But wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert spent time with Pettis with the New York Giants, and Janoko was the Minnesota Vikings wide receivers coach in 2020 when Sharpe was with him.
If you’re asking about an available veteran like Odell Beckham Jr., Cole Beasley or Will Fuller, chances are slim. I won’t dismiss it, but it looks more and more like the Bears want to see how they can develop the current players on the roster – such as Byron Pringle, Equinemus St. Brown and third-round pick Welles Jones – behind Darnell Mooney. . I suspect they are scouring the market for an upgrade to Pringle. They signed him with the idea that he could develop into a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver now that he would have more chances to get out of Kansas City.
Although much has been made about the Bears drafting a range of offensive linemen, they have not had a first-round offensive lineman in many years. What is the success rate for the Bears for starting an unprepared offensive lineman in the first round? — @babydocdave
Since 2017, the Bears have used two first-round picks on the quarterback and were without first-round picks in 2019, 2020 and 2022. The only other first-round pick in that period was linebacker Roquan Smith in 2018. Since 2000, the Bears have used first-round picks on offensive linemen Kyle Long (2013), Gabe Carey (2011), Chris Williams (2008) and Mark Colombo (2002).
We will have to see how Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins are picked this season in the 2021 draft as they have clear paths to win the starting job. Cody Whitehair was a second-round pick in 2016 and has been a mainstay on the line ever since. James Daniels was second in 2018 and was solid on recovery. Before that, you’d have to go back in 2014 with a left tackle Charles Leno in Phil Emery’s seventh-round home run.
With the Bears taking four offensive linemen in the fifth round or later this year, the best-case scenario is that two of them go out on the road as starters. It would still be a win if one of them has a solid start in the future. It’s too early to guess who might get out and where.
Of all the wide receiver signings, which do you think will have the most impact on Justin Fields’ growth? — @whitesquirrl11
Some may look at it differently, but I believe that helping a quarterback develop a wide receiver has more impact than the other way around. If the quarterback is struggling to read the defense, understand the coverage, and process after the snap, I don’t care how dynamic the wide receiver is, he won’t have a huge impact week in and week out. Bears don’t have the quality or depth on wide receivers that they ultimately want to achieve. This is not news to anyone. They know they need the position to continue to develop, and the same can be said of many groups on the roster.
Will the Bears have joint practice with another team during the preseason? – Larry S., Alburn
It’s unlikely this summer, but not because the bear isn’t interested. Joint practices are difficult to schedule, and a large amount of teams are at the mercy of the NFL’s preseason slate.
“I don’t think we are,” coach Matt Eberfluss said on Tuesday when asked about the possibility. “I’m in talks with one of the (preseason opponents) right now and that may come to the fore. I won’t name him, but we could potentially do one. But I don’t think it’s happening right now. “
The Bears open the preseason on August 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field and then play on the road against the Seattle Seahawks on August 18 and the Cleveland Browns on August 27. The quick shift from playing the Chiefs to flying to Seattle will make joint exercises with the Seahawks difficult if not impossible to schedule. Teams usually want to do joint exercises in the first or second week of the preseason. This leads me to believe that the biggest chance is that Eberfluss has talked about the possibility with the chiefs.
Twenty-three teams took part in joint practice last summer, including the Bears, but not the majors. Head coach Andy Reid has said he is not a fan of combined practice, partly because the pre-season schedule was cut from four to three games. The Seahawks also did not participate in the joint exercise in 2021. Brown already has a practice partner at the Philadelphia Eagles for this summer.
Is there a strong wide receiver free-agent class next year? Bear will have money to spend. — @bigrafael76
It is really early to start thinking about who will hit the open market in March 2023. Before this many players could be re-signed, and some could be traded and signed by a new team. The franchise tag can be a factor. Deebo Samuel, Terry McLaurin and DK Metcalf currently top the list. After that, I don’t know if there is a receiver that will order the kind of huge contract I believe you are referring to.
Dionte Johnson, Jarvis Landry, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Hunter Renfo, Alan Lazard, Deontay Harris, Jamison Crowder, Mecole Hardman, DJ Chark, Nelson Agholor, Jacobi Meyers, Marvin Jones and Cam Sims are among those entering their final year . contracts. You can also add Bear’s Byron Pringle and Equinimus St. Brown to that list. With any luck, they will be playing really well this season and the Bears will be motivated to keep them.
As I’ve written before, what would be really cool for the Bears if they could find a top-flight wide receiver in the draft and take advantage of that player being on a cost-controlled rookie contract.
Does the new arrangement really assume that this roster currently built can compete for division? Or is it part of the master plan for the lower part of the league (where most project them) to take that higher draft? — @lastcalllesko
When referring to a rooster, you have to understand that there is nothing static about it. I expect GM Ryan Poles and his staff to continually overhaul the roster with steps, and the process will not end when the regular season begins. Before that point, they could be particularly active when teams cut the 53-man roster by claiming multiple exemptions or even making a trade.
As far as competing for the NFC North title is concerned, who thinks a 6-11 season with one of the league’s oldest rosters is realistic in Year 1 of a new regime with the Bears? Poles are busy working out pay-cap issues for the foreseeable future. The Bears didn’t have a first-round draft this year and are setting up a new offense for a talented second-year quarterback who had a rookie season full of struggles. This makes it difficult to make immediate changes with new employees.
Would Eberfluss believe the Bears could do battle every week with a chance of winning? of course. Planning to tank? No, the Bears want to develop young players on the roster. If a few inexperienced players bloom in 2022, it would put them in a better position to success in 2023, which stinks completely for one of the top draft picks. Looking forward to this season, it is wise to consider all the factors at play for fans of Poles, Aberfalus and Bears.
How has the offensive line been set up this week? Curious if they still have Larry Borom on left tackle and Teven Jenkins on right tackle. — @vidison21
That’s how they were lined up on Tuesday, and my best guess is that the Bears will open training camp with that configuration. But they have a two-week OTA and a minicamp to sort through the options. The coaching staff will not make any scheduling for Week 1 until the Training Camp and Precision.
“Right now, it’s still too early,” offensive line coach Chris Morgan said on Tuesday. “It could be. We’re not even in the pad yet. Right now, we’re refining the technology, we’re starting plans, everything is fluid. Just moving people around, that kind of deal, and so on. More technical now.
“I definitely did (pre-draft work) when both guys came out (last year), and a lot of the positivity that you are seeing right now. Both of those guys are working really hard. They are coming together. They want to win. They are ready to do anything. It’s been a nice surprise so far.”
Sign Akim Hicks for $7 million for one year. What do you think? — @robinrichie2
If a team was willing to pay Hicks $7 million for this season, it would probably already have a contract elsewhere. Perhaps he would stop receiving that kind of money or could achieve that level with encouragement. I doubt the Bears would entertain the idea of re-signing the 32-year-old.