Analyzing the Bears’ preseason — and predictions for 2022

With the season opener about a week away, the Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley breaks down the Bears’ biggest questions:

Where will Justin Fields rank among the NFL’s QBs this year?

FINLEY: As a second-year starter on a run-first team — sound familiar? — the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts ranked 27th with 209.6 passing yards per game, 22nd with an 87.2 passer rating and led all quarterbacks with 52.3 rushing yards per game last year. I expect a similar season out of Fields. He has more talent than Hurts — especially when it comes to deep throws — but less talent around him.

Did Ryan Poles do enough this offseason?

FINLEY: Absolutely not. He needed to give Fields better receivers to throw to and more established blockers in order for the general manager to properly evaluate his quarterback. Receiver. Only the Ravens — whose rushing offense resembles a military academy more than it does, say, the Rams — have spent less cap space on receivers than the Bears this season. Only seven teams have spent less on the offensive line.

The most glaring need the Bears have is …

Offensive line. Fields was sacked on 11.8 percent of his dropbacks last year, the highest rate in the NFL. Since 2000, only eight quarterbacks to attempt 250 or more passes in a season have been sacked more often. The Bears signed exactly one veteran to try to fix the line — and Lucas Patrick needed thumb surgery after the first week of camp.

A rookie who will make the biggest impact is ….

Receiver Velus Jones has the most obvious opportunity — he can inject speed and skill into the team’s worst position group. When Poles defended his offensive roster this week, he mentioned three people by name: receiver Darnell Mooney, tight end Cole Kmet and Jones, the third-round pick from Tennessee.

The team MVP will be ….

Defensive end Robert Quinn — if the Bears keep him all season long. Quinn is coming off a franchise-record 18 1/2 sacks and seems out of place on a rebuilding team. If a championship contender loses a pass-rusher to injury before the trade deadline, Poles might be tempted to see what he could get in a trade.

How will Roquan Smith fare in a prove-it year?

He’ll earn his first Pro Bowl berth in February and a contract extension in March.

What will the Bears’ record be in Matt Eberflus’ debut season?

6-11. Eberflus’ dedication to detail has turned the Bears into a try-hard team, which is sometimes used as a pejorative in the NFL. Ordinarily, that effort level would be worth an extra win or two toward the end of the season, when some teams have little to play for. Four of the five teams the Bears play in December and January will be motivated by a playoff push, though: the Packers, Eagles, Bills and Vikings.

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