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5 Question with the Enemy: Week 1 — Packers vs. Bears

What will be different between the 2022 Bears and 2023 Bears?

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

To assist us in breaking down the season opener against the Chicago Bears, Windy City Gridiron’s Bill Zimmerman was kind enough to answer some questions for us this week. WCG is our sister site that covers the Bears. If you want to get a Chicago fan’s perspective on the game, Zimmerman delivers.

Question 1: Where is the Bears fan base on Justin Fields? Do they still think he’s The Guy or are the addition of DJ Moore and Chase Claypool seen as ways to get an answer about if he’s the guy or not?

Most of the fan base is fully behind Fields. I think most fans know that this is the critical year for Justin. They know this is the year we need to see significant strides in the passing game, but for many fans, it isn’t a question of “if” Fields leaves no doubt this year. It’s “when” and I think most Bears fans expect it to happen sooner rather than later. The offensive line still has questions, but not enough to be an excuse as to why Fields doesn’t perform this year. There were reasons for previous struggles in the passing game, but those are gone. Fields has to take the “Josh Allen leap” this year. If he doesn’t, Ryan Poles has two first round picks in tow and with a potentially deep 2024 QB class, the Bears might pivot if Fields doesn’t show significant growth.

Question 2: What are the expectations for Bears fans this season? Win totals seem to have the Packers and Bears similarly, but Green Bay fans think they can sneakily compete for the NFC North title this season. Is the same true in Chicago?

Bears fans are definitely optimistic about the 2023 season and truthfully, probably too optimistic. I’ve predicted the Bears jump to 8-9 this season, which coming off a 3-14 record is a significant leap. Ryan Poles has two first round picks and a ton more cap space in 2024. 2024 has always been the year for this rebuild to come to fruition and truly compete. I’m sure internally, the goal this year is to make the playoffs, but I think many Bears fans think the division is within reach. Personally, I think the division is Detroit’s this year, and I will be thrilled if the December playoff graphics have the Bears “in the hunt.” That would be substantial progress.

Question 3: What will be different between the 2022 Bears and 2023 Bears? Go ahead and call your shot now.

A competent passing game. Look, even the biggest Justin Fields critics will admit that the athleticism and running ability is off the charts. Fields also has the ability to find receivers down the field and pick up yardage in big chunks. But it was the lack of the intermediate and quick game that failed the Bears in 2022 and gave them a woeful passing game. This year, the weapons Fields has at his disposal are no worse than league average. DJ Moore has built instant chemistry with Fields, Darnell Mooney has always had it, and Chase Claypool is entering a contract year and looks motivated. With Cole Kmet and Bob Tonyan at tight end, there’s plenty of talent to catch balls this year. As long as the offensive line shows a modicum of improvement pass blocking (and there’s room for plenty more growth than just that), the Bears will be able to throw the football. Not for 300 yards a game, but with enough efficiency to be competent.

Question 4: If Jordan Love looks like he’s the next great Packers quarterback in this game, give me Chicago’s reaction.

Despair? Depression? Don’t even try to speak something like this into existence. Just. Don’t.

Question 5: Do you have a best bet for this game?

I think the game is too much of a question to call a winner or put the point spread into the mix. I’ll give you two. Chase Claypool’s yardage total is set at 15.5. You heard me: 15.5. I would hit the over on that, even if Claypool doesn’t return to form, if the passing game is decent, he should be good for 30 yards. The other one worth considering is a D’Onta Foreman anytime touchdown at +500. Foreman is currently listed as the RB2 on the depth chart and Luke Getsy likes to use more than one running back. Foreman is going to be used in between the tackles so if the Bears get down inside the five, it could very well be Foreman that gets a couple hacks at the end zone.