20 most memorable moments that defined the Bears in 2022

2022 has been quite the year for the Chicago Bears. It began with sweeping changes to the front office in January, leading to a mass exodus of veterans in March, and ultimately resulting in a team that’s battling for the No. 1 overall draft pick by the end of December.

But while the Bears entered into a rebuild in 2022, they also saw the growth of quarterback Justin Fields, who became one of the most electric players in the league.

From free agency drama to training camp holdouts, here are the 20 moments that defined the Bears in chronological order.

Robert Quinn sets the team record for most sacks in a season

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

Just two days into the new year, history was made in Chicago. Defensive end Robert Quinn broke Hall of Famer Richard Dent’s franchise record for most sacks in a season with 18, which came at the expense of former Bears quarterback Mike Glennon when he was with the New York Giants. Quinn finished the year with 18.5 sacks.

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are fired

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Bears wasted no time when the 2021-2022 season concluded, firing general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy in January after their disastrous 5-12 season. Pace was out after seven seasons and Nagy was out after four.

Bears hire Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Bears welcomed in a new regime, hiring Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel Ryan Poles to be the new general manager. Poles then brought on Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus to be the new head coach in January.

Devin Hester not getting elected to the Hall of Fame

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

In his first year of eligibility, Bears legendary returner Devin Hester was named a finalist for the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he narrowly missed the mark and wasn’t elected, to the dismay of Bears fans and NFL fans everywhere. Hester is once again a semifinalist for the 2023 class.

Bears trade Khalil Mack

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

Poles’ first major move as general manager was saying goodbye to Khalil Mack, one of the cornerstones of the defense over the last four years. Mack was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers in mid-March for a second and sixth-round draft pick. It would be the first of many departures for longtime veterans of the team.

The exodus of team veterans

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

While Mack was the first and biggest departure from the previous regime, a number of other longtime Bears were either released or not brought back when free agency began. Those players include Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, James Daniels, and Allen Robinson II.

Larry Ogunjobi's failed physical

AP Photo/Jeff Dean

Poles appeared to make a big splash when free agency opened when it was announced the Bears and former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi agreed to a three-year, $40.5 million deal. A few days later, however, the deal was not completed due to a failed physical and the Bears went in a different direction, signing Justin Jones instead. It wasn’t the start Poles wanted and Ogunjobi went on to sign a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Drafting Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

In his first NFL Draft as general manager, Ryan Poles focused on the secondary with the Bears’ top draft picks, selecting cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker. The decision to focus on defense with both picks was questioned by many, but Gordon and Brisker have had solid rookie seasons and the picks look to be paying off.

Bears unveil their orange helmets

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

In 2022, the NFL relaxed their uniform policies by allowing alternate helmets. The Bears took advantage of the change by introducing an orange helmet with a blue wishbone that was worn in two games this season. The alternate helmet elicited strong reactions from fans, both positive and negative.

Roquan Smith's training camp holdout

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Bears training camp got off to a rocky start in Poles and Eberflus’ first season due to Roquan Smith’s contract holdout. Smith decided to holdout from camp as he desired a new deal from the Bears. He was entering the final season of his rookie contract. Public trade requests, impromptu press conferences, and mysterious calls from a man named Saint Omni all followed this saga. Smith would eventually return to the Bears in late August, but it wouldn’t be for long…

Teven Jenkins' training camp saga

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Another player who had himself an interesting training camp was Teven Jenkins. The second-year player was relegated to swing tackle when camp began, missed a significant period of time due to a mysterious injury, had his name pop up in trade talks, and eventually became the team’s starting right guard. All of which took place over the course a month. Jenkins has found a home at right guard this season, but it took many twists and turns to get there.

Ted Phillips announces plans to retire

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips decided to call it a career this summer, announcing his intention to retire at some point in 2023. Phillips has been with the organization for nearly 40 years, 23 of which were spent as president and CEO. The search for his replacement has been ongoing but his announcement has Bears fans excited for the team’s future.

Preliminary plans unveiled for Arlington Heights

AP Photo/Brian Kersey

The Bears front office unveiled preliminary plans for a new stadium site and entertainment district at Arlington Park, nearly a year after they entered into an agreement to purchase the 326 acres of land. While no stadium renderings were presented, the Bears brass released concepts of the mixed-use site that showed their vision for the land. Renderings showed walking paths, ponds, residential and commercial properties, and the location for the desired stadium.

Slip and slide at Soldier Field

AP Photo/David Banks

The 2022 regular season got off to a wet start for the Bears at Soldier Field. They played their Week 1 game in a monsoon against the San Francisco 49ers. But it was memorable thanks to a big comeback, led by Justin Fields, getting the Bears a victory and creating one of the best photos of the year when he and his teammates slid on the soaked turf into the end zone.

The mini bye week magic

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

After sputtering on offense for six weeks, the Bears entered a mini bye week in between their Thursday night matchup with the Washington Commanders and the following Monday night tilt with the New England Patriots. The time off allowed the team to regroup and came out with a reimagined offensive scheme that pummeled the Patriots 33-14. It was the start of a strong offensive stretch with Fields as the catalyst.

Bears trade Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith

Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Near the trade deadline, the Bears said goodbye to two more defensive veterans when they dealt Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles and Smith to the Baltimore Ravens. Quinn’s departure wasn’t terribly surprising, given his age and the team’s desire to rebuild. Smith’s departure on the other hand came out of nowhere as the Ravens sent back a second and fifth-round pick for him. Smith has been a solid player for the Ravens in their postseason quest, while Quinn hasn’t been healthy for the Eagles.

Bears acquire Chase Claypool

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Shortly after the Bears sent Smith to the Ravens, they turned around and became buyers at the NFL trade deadline by acquiring wide receiver Chase Claypool from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a second-round draft pick. Claypool has been slow to get going, in part due to injury, but has another year under contract and will continue to build chemistry with Fields.

Justin Fields breaks single-game QB rushing record

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Fields officially took the NFL by storm in Week 9 against the Miami Dolphins, where he ran for 178 yards, the most every by a quarterback in a single game in the 35-32 loss. His top highlight was an incredible 61-yard tuck and run for a touchdown in which he wasn’t touched. It was Fields’ coming out party as he became the talk of the league following the game.

Justin Fields breaks 1,000 yards rushing

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Fields’ strong season on the ground continued all season long and became just the third quarterback in NFL history to break 1,000 yards rushing, coming in Week 15 against the Eagles. He joins Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson as the only quarterbacks to achieve the milestone.

Bears tie franchise record with 8 straight losses

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The 2022 Bears have shown growth in multiple areas as the season has progressed, but that hasn’t prevented a historic losing streak. They will end 2022 with eight losses in a row, which ties a franchise record. With their next game coming on New Year’s Day against the Detroit Lions, they could set a new record to open 2023.

[listicle id=526654]

Story originally appeared on Bears Wire