Chicago Sports News

The Chicago Bears’ 2015 Season Should Serve As A Guild For The 2022 Season

New Chicago Bears’ general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus continue to overhaul the roster in preparation for the 2022 season. Chicago is projected to be one of the lesser competitive NFL teams in 2022 due to changes on the defense, including trading away All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack. Although this season is expected to be a rebuilding year, Bears fans should hope to see results similar to the 2015 season, the last time the team embarked on a rebuild.

Following a historically disastrous five-win 2014 season, the Chicago Bears entered a complete rebuild as general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman were fired the morning after the season ended. Ryan Pace was hired to replace Emery and was tasked with improving a defense roster lacking star talent and had finished last in most defensive categories in 2014. Pace hired head coach John Fox to help coach a roster without playmakers.

Heading into the start of the 2015 season, not much was expected from the Bears when it came to winning games, as there were no significant additions to the roster while transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense and not having defensive players that fit the scheme. Chicago would start the 2015 season off on a terrible note, as they lost their first three games, including a 26-0 defeat to the reigning NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks.

The Bears would begin to turn their season around in Week 4, defeating the Oakland Raiders with a last-second game-winning field goal, and followed it up a week later with a come from behind upset victory over Kansas City. After Week 4, The 2015 Bears would be one of the more competitive teams in the NFL for the remainder of the season.

Although Chicago would finish the season with ten losses, after their Week 3 loss to the Seahawks, they would only lose one more game the remainder of the season by more than six points. In week 11, the Bears would lose to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos by only two points after failing to convert a 2-point try with seconds left in the game.

The 2015 Bears were so competitive that they were actually in playoff contention at the start of December. After losing to Green Bay Packers in Week 1, Chicago would pull a massive upset on Thanksgiving Night against their rival with a 17-13 victory. Had the Bears not lost five games by four points or less, they would have made the NFC Playoffs as a wild card team.

One of the main reasons why Chicago was so competitive despite not having a talented roster was because of coaching and scouting. Pace did a tremendous job of adding several lesser-known role players that fit the Bears’ new defensive scheme, including Bryce Callahan, Chris Prosinski, Tracy Porter, Jonathan Anderson, John Timu, and Jarvis Jenkins. Several of these players played significant roles in helping Chicago’s defense play competitive in the second half of the 2015 season.

Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio played an instrumental role in putting the Bears’ defense in a position to be successful. After allowing 26 points or more in their first three games, Chicago’s defense would only allow more than 26 points, only twice the remainder of the season. The feat is truly remarkable given that Kyle Fuller led the defense with only two interceptions, while Lamar Houston led with eight sacks.

Matt Eberflus Will Need to Put His Players In The Same Position To Be Competitive in 2022

If the Bears are rebuilding in 2022, Eberflus as the head coach, must be putting his team in a position to be competitive every week. Chicago’s offense will give the team a chance to remain in games as their offense does have a core of quality players, including quarterback Justin Fields, running back David Montgomery, wide receiver Darnell Mooney, and tight end Cole Kmet. The 2015 team featured a similar core of offensive players made up of Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, and Martellus Bennet, which enabled the team to keep games close.

The concern will be Eberflus ‘defense as the Bears’ will transition from a 3-4 defense to a Cover-2 defense. Chicago currently doesn’t have a full defensive roster of players that are accustomed to playing a Cover-2 style defense, which could lead to a lot of blown coverages and missed assignments in 2022. These kinds of mistakes often happen with first-year head coaches.

It will be a priority for Eberflus to make sure the Bears’ defense is relying heavily on fundamentals and hustle if they plan to keep the team in games this season. Not missing tackles, sacks generated by coverage, and defenders hustling to the ball will be vital for Chicago to avoid multiple blowout losses. There might not be a lot of wins for Eberflus in 2022, but if his players are showing that they are dedicated and willing to play hard for their coach, that will be the most significant takeaway at the end of the 2022 season.

The 2022 Bears’ season could be very similar to the 2015 season in which several close-fought losses occur where Chicago might not be able to overcome even one mistake. Eberflus and Poles have a difficult task ahead, overhauling the roster to make the Bears a respectable team before the start of the season, but it can be done. In 2015, little was expected from Pace and Fox, but they put the Bears in a position where they had a chance to win each game after Week 3, something that hopefully could be seen in 2022.

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