The 2022 season is a new beginning of sorts for the Chicago Bears. A new head coach in Matt Eberflus. A new general manager in Ryan Poles. And a lot of new pieces that will be looking to prove themselves.
While the Bears aren’t expected to make any sort of playoff run, their season can still be seen as a step forward if they see progression in their new foundational players. Here are the three most important players for the Bears in 2022.
Quick sidenote: This list does not include Justin Fields because he is undoubtedly the most important piece in Chicago.
S Jaquan Brisker
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Brisker has gotten a ton of attention in the preseason. The Bears’ second round selection out of Penn State has the potential to be Chicago’s Swiss army knife on defense. He can play deep, he can be put in the slot, or inside the box in short yardage situations. His never-say-die attitude on the field is going to win over his teammates, and Bears fans, very quickly. The Bears win-loss record may not be very good in 2022, but Brisker is a sleeper candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year and a pivotal piece to what the Bears are trying to build under this new regime.
WR Darnell Mooney
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Mooney has seen progression in each of his two seasons. He had 61 receptions as a rookie, and eclipsed 1,000 yards on 81 receptions in year two. The third-year man from Tulane is the top target on the Bears roster, and will be expected to continue growing, as well as be the unquestioned top pass-catcher in the Bears offense. This wide receiver room is being panned by just about everyone in the media. If Mooney can keep improving to a Pro Bowl level receiver, he can help change the narrative around the Bears offense, as well as become Fields’ safety blanket.
RG Teven Jenkins
AP Photo/Ben VanHouten
Honestly, you could put the entire Bears offensive line here, but Jenkins is the one under the most pressure. He was their second-round pick in 2021, and he came with high expectations. Injuries allowed Jenkins to play in just six games last season, and he is looking to bounce back and get a full season under his belt. With the offensive line issues in Chicago well documented, Jenkins has to emerge as a guy that Poles and the front office can build around. If Justin Fields doesn’t have anyone dependable to protect him, it’s going to be an even longer year than many are speculating.