Peter King ranks Bears bottom-five team in NFL


Add another voice to the chorus of experts who believe the Bears will be one of the worst teams in the league this season. In his latest edition of “Football Morning in America,” Peter King ranked the Bears as the fifth-worst team in the NFL.

King had the Bears as the worst team in the division too, and ahead of only the Jaguars, Falcons, Panthers and Texans. The biggest gripe for King seems to be the lack of big-name talent on the roster, with Ryan Poles deciding to incur lots of dead money in 2022, instead.

“Part of being a smart franchise architect is to survey the landscape and understand where you are and who you are,” King wrote in his FMIA column. “Ryan Poles did that when he took this job. He traded Khalil Mack, putting a $24-million dead-cap-money anchor on the franchise in the process, and saddled the team with $52.8-million in dead money.”

It’s true, the Bears have not spent very much money in free agency this offseason. Their biggest deal fell apart when Larry Ogunjobi failed his physical, and the team has yet to replace him with a similarly big-contract player.

Regardless, the team could still improve upon their 6-11 record from last season. If Matt Eberflus gets the Bears to buy into his HITS philosophy, and the defense swarms to the ball to create takeaways, it will help the defense not only keep points off the board, but it will help the offense by giving them extra possessions with shorter fields. Second-round draft picks Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker are expected to make an instant impact in the secondary. That should shore up a passing defense that allowed the worst passer rating in the league (103.3), was tied for third-worst passing touchdowns allowed (31), and tied for the fifth-most 40+ yard plays (12) and fifth-highest yards per attempt allowed (7.6).

Despite the departure of Allen Robinson and no marquee replacements at wide receiver, a new offensive system catered specifically to making Justin Fields’ job easier could help the team move the ball. An increased focus on running the ball, and the return of the fullback to help make that happen, will take pressure off of Fields, too. The big question is whether the offensive line can come together to both create holes in the run game, and keep Fields on his feet long enough in the pass game.

Of course, none of this takes into consideration the Bears’ relatively easy schedule. They play the rebuilding Lions twice, as always. They’ve got dates against the aforementioned Texans and Falcons, too. Then there’s the Commanders, who are the latest team to take a chance on Carson Wentz, the Giants who have just as many questions on offense as the Bears and are coming off an even worse season, and the Jets. The Jets earned praise for “winning the draft” this year, but they’ve gotten that same praise for high-profile picks in the past and haven’t had much to show for it. Classes like Zach Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker and Elijah Moore in 2021, Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims in 2020, led to top flight post-draft grades, but have yet to lead to more wins.

None of this is meant to say the Bears will be one of the best teams in the league in 2022. A postseason run this season is probably not in the cards. But if Fields takes a step in his development, and the defense improves under Eberflus, the Bears probably won’t be a bottom-five team in the league, either.

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