Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Alyssa Barbieri

7 Bears players who stepped up in 2022

The Chicago Bears finished with the worst record in the NFL at 3-14, which included losing their final 10 games of the year.

And yet, there’s optimism about the future of this team heading into an important 2023 offseason. That’s because Chicago has north of $110 million in salary cap space, the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and their franchise quarterback in Justin Fields.

Buy Bears Tickets

The last game the Bears won in 2022 was way back in Week 7, when they shocked the Patriots with a 33-14 win on Monday Night Football. Despite only mounting three wins on the season, seven of Chicago’s losses were by one score.

But even in a disappointing season, there were some players that really shined, including several rookies. Here are seven players that stepped up their game.

QB Justin Fields

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

If not for Fields, this season would have been downright brutal. And that’s really saying something considering the Bears only won three games. Fields carried the offense on his back, which included leading the NFL’s top rushing attack. Fields rushed for 1,143 yards, where he fell just 64 yards shy of breaking Lamar Jackson’s single-season rushing record. Fields put Chicago in a position to win with his elite speed and playmaking ability, which was made even more impressive considering the underwhelming receivers and offensive line that he had to work with.

S Eddie Jackson

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

No one benefited more from the addition of Matt Eberflus than Jackson, who had a bounce-back year in 2022. Despite missing the final five games of the season, Jackson led the Bears with four interceptions, after not notching an interception in the previous two seasons, and two forced fumbles. Jackson resembled his younger, playmaking self from his first few seasons, which is good news for the Bears moving forward.

RG Teven Jenkins

AP Photo/Ben VanHouten

It’s hard to believe there was a time when Jenkins’ future in Chicago was in question last summer. But Jenkins’ move to right guard proved to be the best thing for him and this offensive line. Jenkins was the team’s best offensive lineman, all while learning a new position, where he thrived as a run blocker and was one of the better linemen in pass protection. The Bears are expected to retool the offensive line this offseason, but it feels like Jenkins is all but guaranteed a starting job in 2023.

TE Cole Kmet

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This is the season we’d been waiting for from Kmet, who showed his potential in Luke Getsy’s offense and proved to be Fields’ most reliable weapon. Kmet thrived in Chicago’s brutal passing game, where he led the team in receptions (50), yards (544) and touchdowns (7). Listening to GM Ryan Poles praise Kmet for his impressive season, you have to believe the Bears will look to ink him to an extension.

LB Jack Sanborn

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Sanborn quickly became a fan-favorite during the preseason, where he had some impressive outings that showed why he was a coveted undrafted rookie. After Roquan Smith was traded to the Ravens, Sanborn got his chance to start at middle linebacker, and he rose to the occasion. In six starts, he had 48 solo tackles, which was on pace to lead the league (if he started all 17 games). During his short stint, Sanborn showcased his elite instincts and tackling that makes him a favorite to start at linebacker in 2023.

S Jaquan Brisker

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Brisker was easily the best draft pick from Poles in his debut class, and he’s the kind of defensive cornerstone you hope to build a defense around. Brisker led the team in sacks (4.0) and had the second-most tackles (104). He was solid against the run and in coverage, although he struggled with tackling at times. As a hard-hitting box safety, Brisker served as the perfect complement to Eddie Jackson, who got to return to his natural free safety position and thrive.

LT Braxton Jones

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

There were few bright spots on Chicago’s offensive line, but Jones was definitely one of them. The fifth-round rookie quickly worked his way up the depth chart and established himself as the starting left tackle. All things considered, Jones had a solid rookie year. Jones was the 12th highest-graded rookie in the NFL, per PFF, where he ranked second as a run blocker and fourth in pass protection among rookie offensive linemen. Jones still has room to improve this offseason, but it certainly sounds like he’ll be in Chicago’s plans for 2023.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.