Despite not having much hope of a successful season for the Chicago Bears, there are some players who could still have breakout seasons. Here are a few of them.
At the start of the Chicago Bears rebuild, there isn’t much hope of a successful season. New general manager Ryan Poles had a mess to fix and did a pretty good job. He brought in a lot of young players and added a ton of cap space. However, in order to do it, he had to sacrifice the 2022 season.
Poles wasn’t able to go after more established free agents, even those who came at a discount. He has a bunch of underrated players who will play hard to show that they belong. Some might stick, but the majority won’t be around next season.
Despite that, there is some hope. There are some players who could shine and have breakout seasons. These players should add hope to the next steps of the rebuild. While the losses may mount, the cheering won’t stop with these players. Here are five players who could have breakout seasons.
Trevis Gipson, EDGE Rusher
Trevis Gipson is really what made the Khalil Mack trade possible. Last season, he stepped up in Mack’s absence and had a very good season. In just his second season, the fifth-round pick recorded 7 sacks and 39 tackles.
Now he is entering camp as the starter opposite Robert Quinn (for now). He knows that he’ll have the chance to be the starter for 17 games. His confidence should be sky high.
Some expected Gipson to eventually replace Quinn instead of Mack. He ended up replacing Mack, though. Now he has a chance to show that the confidence the Chicago Bears had in him was well-founded.
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Eddie Jackson, Safety
Eddie Jackson exploded out of the gate early in his career. In his first three seasons, he had 10 interceptions and 5 fumble recoveries. Of those, he returned five of those turnovers for touchdowns.
The last two seasons were different, however. He has no interceptions and just one fumble recovery. In addition, he had just one touchdown.
As a result of his exceptional play not being in sight, Jackson’s other deficiencies, notably his lack of tackling skills, became more of a focus.
Jackson hopes to change that in 2022. The Bears hope that having rookies cornerback Kyler Gordon, and safety Jaquan Brisker help Jackson in the defensive backfield. Brisker is slated to start at strong safety. His skills, along with a new defensive system, allow Jackson to go back to what made him an All-Pro. Now he can just concentrate on the quarterback and jump the pass, causing turnovers and scoring touchdowns. The scoring touchdowns part would really help the offense.
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Cole Kmet, Tight End
Despite the frustration of some fans, Cole Kmet has progressed nicely for the Chicago Bears. From his rookie season to his second one, his catches more than doubled. He went from 28 catches in 2020 to 60 in 2021. Additionally, his yards per catch went from 8.7 to 10.2 yards.
That happened despite having three quarterbacks play in a struggling offense.
This season, however, Kmet expects to be more of a focus, especially in the red zone. In his career, he only has two touchdowns, both of them in his rookie season. Now that he’s the TE1, he expects more looks for touchdowns.
Also, Kmet wanted to develop a better relationship with quarterback Justin Fields. He, Fields, and Darnell Mooney spent part of the offseason working out together. Furthermore, they plan on working together again during the current break before training camp begins.
It’ll be interesting to see how Kmet fits into this offense. We are looking forward to an even bigger step taken to finally bring a working offense to Chicago.
David Montgomery, Running Back
There are many people who expect David Montgomery to have a breakout season. He’s done a good job so far, but not many people outside of Chicago have really noticed.
Montgomery will have some help now. The Bears signed Khari Blasingame to be the full-time fullback. He’ll block for Montgomery, giving him more holes to run through. Also, it helps cut down the number of times Montgomery gets hit behind the line of scrimmage. Under former head coach Matt Nagy, there were too many times in which Montgomery got hit behind that line, and had to work free to gain two or three yards. It’s a big reason why he is consistently among the league leaders in broken tackles.
Montgomery is also playing for a new contract. His rookie deal is up after the season and he hopes to stay in Chicago. Running backs are extremely underrated, though. Teams constantly switch them.
That might be the case with the Bears and Montgomery. Khalil Herbert, who did a great job filling in for Montgomery when the starter went down for a month, is waiting in the wings. The Bears could feel comfortable replacing Montgomery with Herbert.
Montgomery wants to have a great season so that doesn’t become an option just yet.
Justin Fields, Quarterback
This success of the Chicago Bears’ latest rebuild may fall on the shoulders of quarterback Justin Fields. He is the face of the franchise now. His development is crucial for the team.
In his rookie season, the plan was to insert him in only a certain situation. For example, short-yardage or goal-line situations. Instead, he ended up playing in 12 games, starting 10 of them. He struggles, throwing more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (7). Additionally, he had 12 fumbles.
The biggest problem for Fields was that Nagy didn’t adjust the offense to tailor his skillset. The offense was built around Andy Dalton, a slow-footed, pocket quarterback.
This season, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will make sure that the offense utilizes Fields’ best skills. Fields will be able to use his legs to either extend a play or run and gain yards. He’ll also be able to throw short passes so he gets the ball out quickly. These are things that help, especially if there are offensive line struggles.
Developing the offense will take some time. As I mentioned, there will be some players on the roster this season who won’t be there next season. In spite of that, Fields can still offer hope. If he shows a good handle of the offense, cuts down on the turnovers, and shows the talents that made him attractive to the Bears, it bodes well for the offense and the rebuild.
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