A Bears question for each group of posts as OTAs continue originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Bears started their second week of OTA on Monday. The media will get their second look at training on Tuesday at Halas Hall.
The development of Justin Fields is the number one priority for new head coach Matt Eberflus and his team. But the Bears have work to do across the board if they plan to make a surprise playoff run this fall.
As we enter the second week of OTAs, here’s a question every post group is facing:
Is Justin Fields the guy?
This one is obvious.
Fields was put behind the eight-ball in his rookie season, but he still showed flashes of star potential against the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers. The sophomore quarterback needs to jump into sophomore to prove he’s a guy the Bears can build their franchise around.
Early returns have been good for Fields this offseason.
“You hear the stories of some of the great guys when they walk into the building, they’re ready to go,” Bears quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said. “They’re mentally prepared, they’re prepared with what they did the night before, and then they’re ready to go in. That’s what they do, and that’s what they want to be great at, so it’s do you see from him.”
How much better can David Montgomery be?
Over the past three seasons, Montgomery has been a productive guard for the Bears. But with Chicago’s offense expected to rely heavily on rushing offense from the outside zone, the Bears will need Montgomery to be effective and efficient while carrying a heavy workload this season.
Bears running backs coach David Walker vaguely compared Montgomery to Jonathan Taylor when discussing how the Bears back could elevate his game.
What’s clear is that the Bears will be asking a lot of Montgomery this fall, and he’s ready to be a cowboy in Chicago.
“As a person, a serious guy, wants to improve,” Walker said of Montgomery. “What I love about David is that he doesn’t feel like he’s arrived yet. You know what I mean? Some of the guys who have been in the league for a while think that “They’ve arrived. He’s trying to learn from his perspective. I think I’ve coached him three out of four seasons, so he’s really had to learn something different and new every offseason.
“He does a good job with it. But I really like his makeup in terms of wanting to improve, pushing himself to improve. He has high standards, and we’re going to do everything we can to achieve those day-to-day standards.”
So which is option #2?
The Bears’ receiving corps has been much maligned this offseason. Allen Robinson left town and the Bears filled his void with Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, rookie Velus Jones Jr., Dante Pettis and Tajae Sharpe.
Getsy and Fields are confident the Bears have enough guns in their arsenal and with more opportunities, guys like Pringle and St. Brown can thrive.
It’s a big bet on a group of receivers that don’t jump off the page. But the Bears need one of them to become a legitimate No. 2 option behind Darnell Mooney or the passing game will fail.
What are we going to get from Cole Kmet?
Given the uncertainty surrounding the Bears’ wide receivers, Kmet thinks he’ll play a huge role in the 2022 offense.
Kmet’s goals have gone from 46 in his rookie season to 89 last year, and there’s reason to believe that number will increase this season in Luke Getsy’s offense.
According to Pro Football Focus, Kmet had a receiving rating of 94.8 on medium depth targets (10-19 yards). A typical Shanahan offense, like the one we assume Getsy will run, thrives on medium-deep routes through midfield.
A reliable tight end can be a young quarterback’s best friend, and the Bears need a big year out of Kmet this fall.
Who is the good guard?
The offensive line is the biggest problem facing the Bears offense in 2022.
Lucas Patrick and Cody Whitehair are locked in center and left guard. The Bears need second-year tackles Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins to move forward in their development and keep the heat out of Fields on the outside.
When it comes to good tackles, the Bears have plenty of options, and none of them are particularly appealing.
Sam Mustipher, Dakota Dozier and rookie Zachary Thomas will likely compete for that spot in training camp. Can either of them split up and prove to be a reliable option between Patrick and Jenkins?
Is more help on the way?
General manager Ryan Poles tried to strengthen inside his defensive line by signing Larry Ogunjobi. Unfortunately, a failed physical nullified the deal, so the Bears turned to plan B in Justin Jones.
Chicago’s interior defensive line is thin as we sit here in May with Khyiris Tonga, Angelo Blackson and LaCale London expected to be the rotation with Jones.
Is there a way to bring in Ogunjobi with a cheaper, incentive-based deal? Can Akiem Hicks be lured?
UDFA to boot?
Roquan Smith and Nicholas Morrow will start at center linebacker and weakside linebacker. The strong side position could be up for grabs in camp with Matthew Adams and undrafted rookie Jack Sanborn potentially battling it out.
Sanborn, a Chicago-area native, is a high-IQ tackle machine who was a vital cog in Jim Leonard’s defense in Wisconsin. While not the most dynamic athlete, Sanborn should be able to perform well as a core staff support.
Don’t be surprised if he beats Adams in camp.
Are Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker as advertised?
The Bears used the first two draft picks of the Poles-Eberflus era on talented defensive backs cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker.
Chicago’s pass defense was shredded last season, so Eberflus and the Poles used draft capital to turn an area of weakness into a possible strength.
Gordon has already impressed OTAs with his ball-peddling nature and instincts. As a result, he should be the favorite to start against Jaylon Johnson.
Brisker should allow Eddie Jackson to play further from the box and return to a role he can thrive in as a deep safety.
If the Bears hit Gordon and Brisker, their secondary could be fixed for the foreseeable future.
The Bears have drafted two versatile offensive weapons in Velus Jones Jr. and Trestan Ebner, who will factor in returning competition with Dazz Newsome and possibly Byron Pringle.
Jones Jr. and Ebner are both power athletes who can change a game on special teams.
With Jakeem Grant and Tarik Cohen gone, the Bears will need new comebacks in 2022, with Ebner and Jones Jr. leading the pack of possible replacements.
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