One thing is undeniable about football. When regimes change, the roster is going to change with it. Ryan Poles didn’t like what he saw from the Chicago Bears when he took over as GM. He even told George McCaskey as much to his face. It isn’t hard to predict what will come next when that happens. This roster might look somewhat familiar right now, but by 2023 there is a strong probability it will be unrecognizable.
This upcoming 2022 season will be vital for many mainstays. Think of it as an audition of sorts. The old directors that hired them are gone. Now the new directors are thinking about re-casting. To keep their parts, everybody must show why they deserve them. There will be no handouts for past accomplishments or prior draft status. Matt Eberflus said everybody gets a clean slate. That is a good thing for some, but not exactly for all.
A few players should feel pressured to deliver a strong performance this coming season.
These Chicago Bears can’t afford to relax in 2022
He was on the hot seat even before the regime changed. Jackson is coming off his second consecutive season without an interception. That isn’t good for any free safety. For one that is among the highest-paid in the NFL, it’s even worse. There will be no more excuses. Takeaways drive this new defense coming in. Eberflus demands them above everything else. Jackson is approaching his 30s, and his contract is not something the Bears will suffer much longer if he doesn’t start living up to it. He badly needs a bounce-back season, or he’ll be unemployed by next January.
“Everybody can tackle.” – Eddie Jackson, 2021pic.twitter.com/64k4t8IAr5
— Bear Down Bradley (@BearDownBradley) September 13, 2021
It hurts to say this, but facts are facts. Running backs don’t get paid much in today’s NFL. As Poles works to get the Bears’ salary cap back in order, the idea of handing Montgomery an expensive new contract probably isn’t high on his priority list. There is no doubt that #32 is the best player on the offense coming out of last season with his second straight cracking of 1,000 total yards. This is a critical time for him. He can’t afford a down season because the regime that drafted him is no longer in place. All Poles needs is one excuse, and he’ll likely let the back hit the free agent market.
He will probably go down as one of the most divisive picks of the 2010s. On the one hand, Whitehair was the best offensive line selection Ryan Pace made during his tenure, making the Pro Bowl in 2018. On the other, he never quite seemed to reach his full potential. Every time it looked like he was ready to ascend to that upper NFL tier of great interior linemen, he’d level off or even regress. Last season was a perfect example. He was excellent at left guard in 2020. Then in 2021, he was often a liability. At least in pass protection. Given his age (30 in July) and contract, the odds are not in his favor.
— Bears Blog Boy (@TommyK_NFLDraft) July 13, 2021
There is no denying Kmet had a solid second season with 612 yards. The best any Bears tight end has managed since 2014. That said, he also failed to score any touchdowns and suffered from serious drop issues. Not to mention his ongoing inability to create consistent separation as a receiving target. Don’t forget Poles spent years in Kansas City watching Travis Kelce forge a Hall of Fame career. His standards for that position are incredibly high. Nobody would ever mistake Kmet for being anywhere close to Kelce’s league. So 2022 will be an important proving ground for the former 2nd round pick.
This is going to enrage a lot of Chicago Bears fans. It makes no sense for Fields to be on the hot seat. He’s forced to start over in a brand new offense. The young quarterback deserves some patience to get acclimated into a system. This is true. There is no debating that. That said, there is one crucial fact that can’t be ignored. Poles and Eberflus didn’t draft him. He’s not “their guy.” That doesn’t mean they won’t embrace him, but he must play well. Or at least better. If he looks like the same player from last season, the leash will be far shorter on Fields than anybody wants to admit.
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