There is a newfound optimism surrounding the Chicago Bears after they lucked out in getting Justin Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft. While it could take some time for Fields to be named the starter, the skillset he brings helps fans forget the nightmare that was the Mitchell Trubisky era. Matt Nagy has named Andy Dalton the starter in Week 1, but how long will it be until we see Fields inserted into the game to the applause of fans?
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears are still led by Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks on the defensive line. Roquan Smith remains as an inside linebacker that continues to evolve into one of the best at his position in the NFL while the secondary will have young guys like Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor leading the way at cornerback.
With the regular season prepared to start soon, here are five bold predictions for the Bears in 2021.
Justin Fields Is Starting As Soon As Week 2
If you ask everyone who should start under center for the Bears, the majority of them would say Fields. Despite being a rookie, he has such a higher ceiling than someone like Dalton, who is a quarterback we already know is mediocre. Even with fans clamoring for Fields to see the field, Nagy is adamant about Dalton making the start in Week 1.
Given the stubbornness of Nagy, it could be a decent amount of time before we see Fields as the starter. But when Chicago’s offense sputters with Dalton at quarterback, Nagy won’t have a choice but to start Fields sometime between now and Week 2.
David Montgomery Rushes For 1,100+ Yards
There is a large group of people that believe David Montgomery’s season in 2020 was a fluke. Many point to the defenses he was playing against to end the season as a reason why he exploded for 1,508 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns in his second season in the NFL.
Montgomery rushed for 1,070 yards last season, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt. After a stellar campaign in 2020, Montgomery will outdo himself by eclipsing 1,100+ rushing yards in 2021, showing people that his outing last season was more than just a one-time occurrence.
Damien Williams Finishes With More Receptions Than Tarik Cohen
Following a season-ending injury last season, Tarik Cohen remains on the PUP list ahead of the regular season. There hasn’t been much of a timetable for him to return, but the Bears are going to be cautious with the pass-catching back.
Before his ailment in 2020, Cohen had back-to-back seasons of recording 70+ receptions in Chicago’s offense. However, with Cohen needing to be eased into action — whenever he does return — Damien Williams will finish with more receptions than Cohen. Williams, who signed with the Bears this offseason, has caught 20+ passes in each of his first six seasons in the NFL.
The Offense Line Of The Bears Allows Fewer Than 35 Sacks
One of the most glaring weaknesses on the Bears is their offensive line. Chicago released Charles Leno and Bobby Massie earlier this offseason, ensuring that they’ll have two new offensive tackles in 2021. The Bears signed Germain Ifedi to replace Massie at right tackle, and there’s a chance that recently-signed Jason Peters ends up playing left tackle at some point in the season.
Even though things look bleak for the offensive line in Chicago, they’ll allow fewer than 35 sacks as a unit. The running ability of Fields should help limit the number of sacks that opposing defenses can record against the Bears.
Jaylon Johnson Leads The Team In Interceptions
Once again, the Bears are going to lean on young corners in Johnson and Vildor in the upcoming season. While they are going young at cornerback, Chicago does have veterans in Tashaun Gipson and Eddie Jackson on the backend of their secondary.
Jackson has shown an affinity to intercept passes, totaling 10 interceptions from 2017-2019. Jackson had zero interceptions in 2020 as teams have started to avoid throwing to his side of the field. As for Johnson, even though he’s yet to record a single interception yet, he’ll lead the Bears in interceptions this season in his second year in the league.