The Chicago Bears have nowhere to go but to move into the 2023 season.
After finishing last in the NFC North with a 3–14 record, they secured the no. 1 pick in the NFL Draft because that performance gave them the worst winning percentage of any team in the league.
Going into the offseason, general manager Ryan Poles was in an advantageous position due to the selection spot and because the Bears had more salary-cap room than any other team in the league. Pols ended up trading that top pick to the Carolina Panthers and was able to secure top wideout DJ Moore and high-profile draft picks in return.
Unlike most of the bottom-placed teams in the league, the Bears did not need a number. 1 quarterback. The confidence in the Windy City is that they have their current and future quarterback in Justin Fields. The former Ohio State star has displayed great athleticism in his first 2 years in the league and the many tools needed to become a top quarterback.
However, to this point, Fields has not demonstrated consistency as a passer. He has shown that he is possibly the best running back quarterback in the league and one of the best in NFL history. If the Bears are to rise above their current state, they need Fields to be a more consistent passer and leader.
But this is not their only need. They have position battles on both sides of the ball and they need winners of those battles to perform very well in the 2023 season.
Starting Running Back: Khaleel Herbert Vs. d’onta foreman
Running back might have been Chicago’s best position last year, but starting running back David Montgomery is now with the Detroit Lions after signing as a free agent.
That left the position going to Khaleel Herbert but the Bears signed D’Onta Foreman to a free-agent deal, and he is a very capable runner. Foreman took over as the Panthers’ no. 1, that team traded superstar Christian McCaffery to the San Francisco 49ers.
Foreman did a solid job after becoming the team’s primary running back, and the Bears have a lot of faith in Herbert.
Herbert picked up the ball 129 times for 731 yards And also scored 4 touchdowns last year. Foreman was even more productive, gaining 914 yards on 203 carries and scoring 5 touchdowns.
In addition to those two, the Bears also drafted Roshan Johnson out of Texas in the fourth round. Johnson looks to get his share, but the winner of the battle between Herbert and Foreman will be the starting running back.
Strong Side Linebacker: Jack Sanborn Vs. noah sewell
Based on the progress he’s made over the past year, it appears Sanborn has earned the job and a fifth-round pick won’t have the skills to take the job away from him.
Sanborn was impressive in last year’s training camp, earning snaps along the way and taking over as the starter at middle linebacker after Roquan Smith was traded to the Baltimore Ravens. Free agent signee Tremaine Edmonds will be the Bears’ starting middle linebacker this season, with Sanborn moving to the strong side.
However, Sanborn was unable to participate in OTAs due to an ankle injury suffered at the end of the previous season, and Sewell took his place. Sewell displayed speed and firepower during OTAs, and that gives him a punching opportunity. Sanborn is likely to stay healthy throughout training camp, and that means Sewell will need to be consistently effective in order to take the starting job.
Backup Quarterback: PJ Walker Vs. tyson bagant
The Bears brought Walker in to serve as Fields’ backup as they believed he plays in a similar manner and should be able to step in in an emergency and lead a consistent offensive game. Walker worked with Moore for 3 seasons in Carolina and they know each other very well.
Walker was not impressive during minicamp and OTAs. He needs to show a lot of improvement when it comes to putting the ball on the money. He certainly has had time to improve in training camp.
If he doesn’t do that, Bagant has a chance to steal the job. He was a star at Division 2 Shepherd, and has the power to make some tough throws. However, going from that level to NFL backup would be a huge jump.
Nathan Peterman is also on the roster, but he is not a legitimate threat to win games and is unlikely to stick around through training camp.