It’s that time of year again. 

The draft is complete, the schedule is out, and OTA’s are getting underway. Now is the time that every football fan begins looking ahead toward the season with excitement and hope for the future of their team. 

That makes this the perfect time to drop my bold predictions for what we’ll see from the 2022 Chicago Bears this fall. 

 #1 – Cole Kmet will finish top 5 in Tight End receiving yards 

Just last season, Kmet took a big step forward in his development. While the Chicagoland native did not find the end zone in all of 2021, he did begin producing as a down field receiver. 

In 17 games in 2021, Kmet had 60 receptions for 612 yards. That was good for 12th amongst NFL tight ends.  

Kmet also ranked inside the top 12 amongst tight ends in targets (93, eighth), target share (17.7%, 11th), and air yard share (17.6%, 11th). With the exception of Darnell Mooney, the Bears roster is devoid of down field receiving threats, and Kmet should see even more looks in the Bears passing game for 2022. 

Another year of development and a jump in targets in Luke Getsy’s offense, and it’s reasonable to think Kmet could post 800+ yards this season. For frame of reference, Dallas Goedert ranked fifth in tight end yards with 830 last season.  

I have really begun to like the player Cole Kmet is becoming, and I continue to enjoy seeing his relationship with Justin Fields grow. Kmet has had some issues with dropped passes, but if he can sure up his hands, he will be a real weapon for the Bears next season. 

#2 – Velus Jones Jr. will have more rushing touchdowns than receiving touchdowns

When the Bears drafted Velus Jones Jr. in the third round, it was a bit of a head scratcher. 

While I was a fan of the player and the skillset Jones brought to Chicago, he lacked the pedigree of being a true “wide out”. Most people thought the Bears needed a big and strong deep threat to compliment Darnell Mooney. They were hoping for a player similar to what Allen Robinson was prior to the 2021 fallout. 

That’s not what Jones is. 

While Jones has decent size, he relies on his speed to make plays more than anything. He ran a 4.31 at the combine, and when given an open field, can make something happen. His receiving skills are raw, but an explosive and physical runner at that size and speed can always be an asset.  

It wouldn’t be the first time a big and fast return man out of Tennessee found success with the Chicago Bears… 

I’m not saying Jones is going to be as good as Cordarrelle Patterson. I don’t think the Bears will even use him much as a running back. But everything we’ve seen about Luke Getsy in Green Bay gives reason to believe he will prioritize what his players do best. For Jones, that’s getting the ball in space. I expect him to be a candidate for some opportunities to run the ball around the edge (similar to Deebo Samuel’s role in SF) and think he may break a few loose. 

I think Jones’ best chance to score touchdowns in 2022 will come as a runner, while Mooney, Kmet, and other targets will be the main targets for red zone passes.

#3 – Robert Quinn will not lead the Bears in sacks

This is not a knock against Robert Quinn by any means. 

After posting 18.5 sacks and being disruptive all season, it’s no secret how special of a player he is for the Bears defense. After all, he just broke the franchise’s single-season record for sacks. 

I think he may have a tougher time leading the Bears this season. 

For one, it’s still a question to some if Quinn will be on the Bears for the entire season, or any of the season for that matter. Trade rumors buzzed during the 2022 NFL Draft, and while Ryan Poles chose not to move Quinn then, it doesn’t mean he won’t if he gets the right price.  

“I want him on the team.”

– Ryan poles on robert quinn

On top of that, the turnover in the Bears defensive unit will make it much more difficult for Quinn to get to the passer. 

With Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols, and Khalil Mack elsewhere, there is nobody on the Bears defensive line that will attract more attention than Quinn. Unlike years prior, Quinn is now the guy that will get doubled as often as possible.  

While it may drop his sack numbers, it doesn’t mean he can’t be productive. Players that are so disruptive they command a double team free up other players on the line to get home to the quarterback. Previously, it was Quinn as the beneficiary of those plays. 

Now, it may be Trevis Gipson. 

Gipson is a third-year pass rusher that was drafted by the Bears in the 5th round of the 2020 draft. Last season, he started nine games, and recorded an impressive seven sacks.

With Quinn lined up on the other side, Gipson could emerge as a double-digit sack guy in 2022, and is like to lead the Bears if Quinn does not. 

Image via Jon Durr – USA TODAY Sports