In May in the NFL, hope is eternal. Everyone has a chance of getting 12 or 13 wins. Each team can theoretically win their division, have a deep playoff run, dream of playing in February. On paper, each team is better than ever. Free agency and the offseason draft have met all major needs, and the outlook is rosier than ever.
This lively optimism rarely translates into August, let alone September and its sister months of fall. As for the Bears, the enthusiasm might be justified for once. It’s the power that comes pre-packaged with the draft selection of a great quarterback prospect for the first time in decades. Anything is possible, and I mean anything, when a team rightly believes in their âoffensive call signalâ.
The 2021 season presents a fascinating challenge for the Bears. They have a young ferryman in Justin Fields who, in theory, will take them to the Promised Land very soon. But until he’s comfortable with the speed and rigors of professional football, they’re not exactly ready to win and fight. Their status rests largely on his arms and legs until further notice, and more so now. Not that they are in a hurry, but the faster Fields leaps into greatness, the more of a force to be reckoned with with bears becomes.
In the first part of a calendar roundtable, the Windy City Gridiron examines the Bears’ official calendar for 2021 and makes only the most responsible record predictions.
It’s mid-May: anything is possible, right?
Knowing what you know now – the vast majority of Chicago’s off-season players are moving in the rearview mirror, who they’ll play and when – what’s your record prediction for the upcoming campaign?
Robert Zeglinski: 7-10
I recognize that I could be in the minority for this job, but I believe Justin Fields is a sure-fire Rookie of the Year candidate this coming season. I see no verifiable reason to believe the Bears are arbitrarily holding him back to play a below-replacement quarterback like Andy Dalton. He’s going to win an upcoming training camp competition and he’ll start all 17 games. And while there are understandable growing pains here and there, as with any green passer, I think Fields excites more often and dazzles more often with special moments that remind everyone why the Bears traded to do of him the future face of their franchise.
Fields’ presence and the occasional rise in his supporting cast won’t be enough for the Bears to be a big player in January. But it doesn’t matter. It’s about exposing the 22-year-old to live ammunition now first and foremost. By the next calendar year, the year of whoever your Lord (s) is in 2022, those bullets are sure to be moving in slow motion. (By then, I imagine Chicago is also opening up some of its defensive holes now.) What about the Bears? Go up high.
Lester Wiltfong Jr .: This team has gone .500 for consecutive years. I will say they will be there again as they try to bring in a new quarterback at some point.
I will predict 9-8, and while the fun story to follow will obviously be Fields, I think the defense that will take off under Sean Desai is going to be just as interesting.
Now for my optimistic prediction. There are a lot of ‘ifs’ around this team right now, but if things line up as the team expects, I could see the Bears really shock the NFL and win NFC North.
Josh Sunderbruch: 9.5-7.5
Every time that team takes a step forward, they step back a bit. Fields and Teven Jenkins are great pickups, but Kyle Fuller is a real loss and the departure of Charles Leno thins what should have been a force. I think they’ve improved on the net, but it’s close.
Bill Zimmerman: Anyone who has read any of these NFL Draft WCG roundtables know how far I am on Justin Fields. I’m hyped, but very rarely do we see a magical rookie season from an NFL-level quarterback. I have high hopes for the 2022 Chicago Bears, but the 2021 team will be a transition team. With a tougher schedule and a few key players who have left the squad and weren’t replaced adequately, I think the Bears are going down slightly.
I will go with a 7-10 record.
Jeff Berckes: I predict the Bears will end with a regular season record they never had in their long and rich history. Before I say the Bears have never played a 17-game schedule before, know that the 1925 Red Grange Barnstorming Bears are credited with a 17-game schedule, including five insane games in eight days, and finished 9 -5-3.
I believe the bears of 2021 will not finished 9-5-3.
Sam Householder: Unfortunately, I don’t see more than seven wins on the calendar today. Regardless of the starting quarterback, be it the disappointing Andy Dalton or rookie Justin Fields, I don’t see any of them bringing enough attacking to the table to get over the bump with some of these teams the Bears play. Plus, the defense has enough holes and questions, it’s hard to say they have enough to carry the team again. They were 8-8 a year ago and, by most accounts, were lucky enough to hit that record.
Are they much better now? Not immediately, in my opinion, it’s a year of ramping up.
Will robinson ii: Make no mistake, this schedule is rough, and there are still a lot of unknowns. Having said that, I’m the optimistic type, so I’ll go with it 9-8, with wins over Cincinnati, Detroit (twice, despite knees), Raiders, Steelers (who I’m down on), Arizona (in a squeaker), Green Bay (I’ll go our separate ways until we know more), Vikings (also separated, because it’s tradition) and the Giants . I think this Bears team will be better, how much remains to be seen. I have a feeling that the real improvement (if it actually happens) will happen in 2022. Although it may Feel like another doldrums season on paper, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m pretty excited about it.
Erik Duerrwaechter: 12-5
Truly, for two years in a row, the Bears have been an 8-8 team due to a combination of reliable defense and poor quarterback play. A good improvement in the Bears’ offense depends on rookies like Justin Fields and Teven Jenkins and how quickly they develop. It’s a bet for everyone at Halas Hall.
My concerns are listed above, I also think that’s why we’ll see this Bears team exceed national expectations. Justin Fields is a quarterback who won’t play like a regular rookie adjusting to a new playbook. This Bears team needs constant quarterback play to win the field (s). Use a playbook similar to what was rolled out at the end of Chicago’s season last year as a baseline. Then grow from there. Defense should bounce back a bit as an actual offense begins to take shape.
Robert Schmitz: If you absolutely had me predicting a record in May, I would tell you that the Bears will likely struggle to win more than eight games in 2021 due to their hellish schedule. In the same breath, I would also clarify that I think they are quite varied – from Justin Fields to growing quarterback Darnell Mooney, Teven Jenkins’ impact on the offensive line, Eddie Jackson returning to a Vic Fangio style role. and Plus, I think there are a lot of positive stories around this team that we don’t know the impact of.
Justin Fields is he a star? Add two wins. Aaron Rodgers coming out of the division? Add a year and a half more. There are real reasons why these bears could be competing for the division in December. Considering the team’s 2019-2020 trajectory, I’ll take the realistic route and project eight sure wins.
Jack R Salo: They haven’t filled enough offensive holes to be taken seriously on this side of the ball, and a great NFL Draft shouldn’t cloud your vision. Sometimes they will have their success, and Khalil Mack should have a monster year. Still, it could be Fields learning on the job or Andy Dalton getting booed every half. This team is not ready at this time and must continue to rejuvenate as it builds itself.
6-11 and remind all your Bears fan friends that everything will be fine.
Alex Obringer: Knowing everything we know, besides who the quarterback of the Packers will be, I think the bears can go 9-8. It all comes down to those two games against the Packers.
Patti Curl: 15-2
Andy Dalton will lose to the Rams, win his revenge match against the Bengals and maintain his elite career winning percentage against the Brown.
When the Bears move to Fields in Week 4, he’ll easily munch on a string of cupcake opponents in the Lions, Raiders and Packers before facing some real NFL-caliber competition. He will lose against Vita Vea Buccaneers, clinging to the ball too long trying to make a winning game and succumbing to choking, deeply tender, “It hurts more than it hurts you” smosh Vea’s bag, putting the bears out of reach for a goal draw on the field. It will be Fields’ only loss of the season and a crucial lesson in his Hall of Fame career development.