Week 16 Takeaways: If your holiday season was dampened by your favorite NFL team, buck up, 2022 just might return some holiday cheer
The Bears’ problem is not a lack of talent. Their biggest problem in 2020 was offensive-line play. As poorly as that unit played, people still questioned letting tackles Bobby Massie and Charles Leno Jr. sign elsewhere in the offseason. With two games remaining in 2021, it’s apparent that rookie late-round draft pick Larry Borom can hold down one of those tackle spots, even if coach Matt Nagy decided not to start him upon his return from the COVID list on Sunday. If he had not been sidelined with injury for much of this season the Bears pass’ protection would’ve been much better.
Also, their prized rookie offensive tackle, Tevin Jenkins, has played in the last two games. If he is going to make the move from college right tackle to NFL left tackle there is still a lot of learning to do, but the fact that he is on the field in Dec. 2021 following Aug. 2021 back surgery is a great sign.
The Bears are deep at running back, have very good speed at wide receiver, and their defense has fought through injuries — including a season ender to Khalil Mack — along with three years of transition in the secondary to remain a nearly average defensive unit. WIth nothing to play for on Sunday, and third string quarterback Nick Foles’ as a starter, the Bears ended the Seattle Seahawks slim playoff hopes on an unusually snowy day in the Pacific Northwest.
As bad as the Bears have looked at times this season, a significant improvement is possible next season. Some changes on the offensive line and defensive backfield are necessary, but will decide the immediate future of this team is what happens with the leadership positions.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that Bears coach Matt Nagy’s future with the organization is in serious doubt, and the fanbase is completely through with him. The Bears No. 1 priority this offseason should be to find a coach that can maximize the talents of rookie quarterback Justin Fields.
The former Ohio State star has shown flashes of brilliance, but even though he’s a supreme athlete, he needs to make much faster decisions on the field. There’s nothing wrong with that. Slow decision making was a criticism levied on Tom Brady as a rookie from his quarterbacks coach with the Patriots. However, when Brady finally became a starter in 2001 they put him in a system that gave him the best opportunity to succeed.
The Bears have a good chance to win an NFC North in 2022 that might not include Aaron Rodgers, but it can’t happen with the way that the team and staff is currently constructed. A new coach is a must so the Bears have a chance to pull a 2001 New England Patriots and put their young quarterback in the best possible situation to succeed, so his mental clock can speed up and give the team its best chance to win.
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