What to expect from Bears after bye week
|Saturday, December 10, 2022, 9:01 AM- -|
It took 13 weeks and a 3-10 record, but the Chicago Bears finally have their bye week. This has to go down as one of the latest bye weeks in franchise history, and some argue that had they had their Bye week sooner, things would be different.
I have a hard time believing that, but an earlier Bye week could have meant better health, which could have meant more wins. With the Bears sitting with the second-worst record in the NFL and the only team to be eliminated from NFC Playoff contention, the final stretch run for the Bears should be focused on developing rather than winning games.
Looking at the Bears final four games and wins would be hard to come by as they face three playoff teams and another improving Lions team that has crept very close to the .500 mark. Usually, this is when I discuss what to look for on Sunday and make a game prediction.
With no game, that goes out the window, but there are still some things you can look for this team to do as the bye week ends.
Focus on getting healthy
Not only have wins been a struggle for the Bears this season, but so has the overall health of this team. Chicago has been among the most injured teams in the NFL, as their injury report was ridiculously long a few weeks ago.
While a lot of those injuries are week to week, several players have suffered season-ending injuries, including Darnell Mooney. With no game this weekend, the Bears will have some extra days off, which should help them rest, relax and recover.
This is the perfect time for many of these nagging injuries to get some extra rest to become closer to healing. The healthier this team can get, but the better they can play down the stretch.
Trust the passing game
Despite the drastic improvements this offense has made under Luke Getsy, the passing game still needs a ton of work. Entering week 14, the Bears rank No. 1 in the NFL in rushing yards per game, while they rank 30th in passing yards. Their three-headed monster, including Justin Fields, is a big reason for that, as he will surpass 1000 yards on the ground this season.
That may work in his favor this season, but for the longevity of his career, Fields needs to scrap the running of the football and focus more on passing the ball. You started to see that on Sunday when he went 20-25 for better than 240 yards, but that was one of the rare good games he had through the air. In his defense, it hasn't been easy, as the Bears don't have a great WR core to help him.
Knowing what worked in their last game, it is time for Fields to build off that and focus on some positives to take into 2023. His overall growth and grasp on the offense will be the key to this team's success and could be the difference between the Bears being a playoff team or a team stuck in rebuild mode for years.
Evaluate and play it smart
With the Bears eliminated from playoff contention, some fans wonder if the Bears will start sitting their starters in an effort to tank the rest of the way. That is something that I have never been a fan of, but you can see the thought process behind it.
The Bears know they have holes on this roster and are currently locked into the No. 2 pick for 2023. Losing out would guarantee them that spot with an outside shot of grabbing the No. 1 pick should Houston win some games down the stretch. If the Bears choose to sit some players, it indicates that they are packing it in and going into tank mode.
However, looking at the final four games of the season, things will not be easy for the Bears. The last four opponents have a combined record of 35-13, with only the Detroit Lions outside the playoff picture. Don't let that fool you. The Lions are playing much better and will not be an easy out for anyone.