30 Most Important Bears of 2022: No. 7 Andrew Janocko

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The Chicago Bears are gearing up for the 2022 NFL season, which features plenty of new and returning faces within the organization. There are a number of players, coaches and front office members that are crucial to the team’s success this season.

Every day from now until the start of training camp, we’re counting down our 30 most important Bears for the 2022 season. We’ll recap their 2021 season, look ahead to 2022 and tackle the biggest question facing them this year.

At No. 7 is quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko, who will play an instrumental role in Justin Fields’ development this season.

Background

AP Photo

Position: Quarterbacks coach

Age: 34

Experience: 11th year

2022 cap hit: N/A

2021 recap

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

For the last seven seasons, Janocko served in a variety of coaching roles with the Minnesota Vikings, including quality control coach, assistant offensive line coach, and wide receivers coach. But in 2021, he was promoted to the team’s quarterbacks coach, working notably with entrenched starter Kirk Cousins. The Vikings quarterback is a vested veteran at this point and has been putting up Pro Bowl-caliber numbers for a while now. That didn’t change in 2021 when he threw for 4,221 yards and 33 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He also had a 103 quarterback rating, his third consecutive season with a rating of over 100. The best stat from 2021 for Cousins, however, might be that his interception percentage dropped to the lowest in his career at 1.2 percent.

It’s difficult to measure just how much Janocko influenced Cousins, but his teammates lauded the quarterback early last season. “I haven’t seen Kirk play like this in a long time. He’s playing great football right now.” Said defensive end Everson Griffen. His former head coach Mike Zimmer, who wasn’t always complimentary of him, added to the praise. “I think he’s playing outstanding. But not only that, he’s playing with a lot of confidence. I really appreciate the leadership that he’s been doing lately. It’s been so much better, something he wanted to work on. He’s done a great job with that.”

The Vikings only won eight games in 2021, but it’s hard to fault Cousins for last season’s shortcomings. Janocko played a hand in Cousins’ success last year but will be more instrumental in his new quarterback’s development.

2022 outlook

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Janocko’s next project will be Fields, who is already showing signs of improvement after his rookie season during the offseason program. Fields is changing his footwork and adjusting his release thanks to the coaching from Janocko and new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Janocko has been impressed by Fields thus far in pretty much way possible. He appreciates Fields’ desire to outwork everyone in the building and has seen how intelligent he is with processing the new offense.

During the 2021 season, it was fairly evident Fields wasn’t getting the proper coaching needed to develop at the NFL level. With Janocko now in the building and in his ear, the hope is Fields can take a leap towards becoming a franchise quarterback with not only the right scheme in place, but the right coaches behind him.

Big question: Will Janocko help Fields become a star QB?

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There are other specific questions we could ask, such as if Janocko will help Fields improve with ball security. Or if his coaching can help Fields get rid of the ball at the right time? But fans want to know if Janocko can help the second-year signal caller put all of that together to become a star passer in the NFL. The truth is we don’t have a good sense of direction yet.

Janocko is entering his second season as a quarterbacks coach and his one starter was already an established veteran. Sure, Cousins improved in some areas, but what will it look like with Fields, a quarterback who is still young in his development? Janocko already worked with one rookie quarterback in Minnesota last year, with little to no results.

Quarterback Kellen Mond, a 2021 third-round pick out of Texas A&M, failed to make an impression on the coaching staff and spent most of the year as an inactive participant on gamedays. He was even passed up for a starting opportunity when Cousins was on the COVID-19 list.  Mond’s inability to climb the depth chart isn’t Janocko’s fault and he’s not on Fields’ level as a quarterback, either.

Both Janocko and Fields are saying the right things and evidence of the quarterback’s development is there. Time will tell whether or not Janocko had a lasting impact but the groundwork is already being laid.

30 Most Important Bears of 2022

We’re counting down our 30 Most Important Bears of 2022. Check back every day leading up to the start of training camp.

 

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