2023 NFC North Division Preview: Chicago Bears Pinning All Hopes On Justin Fields’ Development, And That’s Scary

Videos by OutKick

The 2023-24 NFL season kick-off is almost here! OutKick is unveiling its team-by-team preview series. Last week, we covered the AFC and NFC West. This week, we’re tackling the AFC and NFC North, starting with last year’s last-place finisher in the NFC North, the Chicago Bears.

Chicago Bears 2022-23 Record: 3-14

Chicago Bears 2023-24 Win Total Over/Under: 7.5

Offseason Moves

The Chicago Bears entered the offseason with more salary cap space than any team in the NFL. Because of that, they went nuts bringing in new pieces to improve on one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Last year’s 14 losses represents the most in one season in team history.

The only problem is that the Bears used a very odd strategy in free agency. For a team with many holes to fill, they elected to spend a lot of money on non-premium positions. They signed linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards. And, they brought in offensive guard Nate Davis. All three players are among the 10-highest-paid players on the roster. And they all play non-premium positions.

The one big move they did make was trading the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft to the Carolina Panthers. That move netted them wide receiver DJ Moore, a highly-underrated player at a very important position. Plus, they added a second-round pick this season and future draft capital.

The Chicago Bears are counting on new wide receiver DJ Moore to help quarterback Justin Fields take a step forward this NFL season and get the team out of the NFC North basement.
The Chicago Bears are counting on new wide receiver DJ Moore to help quarterback Justin Fields take a step forward this NFL season and get the team out of the NFC North basement. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

They did let veteran running back David Montgomery walk, a wise move for another non-premium position player. Otherwise, they filled in gaps through smaller free agent signings and the NFL Draft.

Speaking of the draft, the team traded back one spot on draft night to gather more capital and then selected Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright. With two second-round picks, they grabbed interior defensive lineman Gervon Dexter from Florida and cornerback Tyrique Stevenson out of Miami. In the third round, they inexplicably took ANOTHER interior defender, Zacch Pickens, out of South Carolina

Season Outlook

The Chicago Bears had a really questionable offseason. With all that money available and holding the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, everything lined beautifully for the team. Their starting quarterback, Justin Fields, is on a rookie deal that only counts around $5 million against the salary. This is the perfect time to take advantage of that.

Though, I personally believe Fields is massively overrated and will continue to struggle mightily in the passing game. He lacks awareness, and that’s not something that really can be learned or coach. Players have it or they don’t. He doesn’t.

But instead of upgrading at important positions, the Bears spent a big chunk of money on linebackers and an offensive guard. They did use their first-round pick on a tackle, which was smart, but then they decided to use two picks in the second and third rounds on interior defensive linemen. They did get cornerback help, but Stevenson was a questionable selection in the second round.

I love the addition of DJ Moore and he should help the offense. And Nate Davis is a great pass-blocking guard, so that should help, too. But this is a team still mostly counting on a lot of the same pieces as last year. And for some reason, Vegas thinks this team is five wins better than last year’s team. They’re a super trendy playoff pick and Justin Fields is getting MVP buzz.

That’s absurd. This team isn’t that much better than last year’s team. Their schedule isn’t tough, and that’s playing into the number. But I have the Bears as a six-win team … at best.

Chicago Bears Predicted Win Total: UNDER 7.5

LISTEN: Dan Zaksheske and Geoff Clark Break Down The AFC and NFC North On The Latest Episode of “OutKick Bets”

Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

One Comment

Leave a Reply
  1. Sorry Dan this is pretty weak analysis. I’ll give you the uncertainty with Fields, this is absolutely his make or break season, but you rag on them for acquiring linebackers and interior defensive lineman….a team that was last in sacks and second to last in rushing defense. They badly needed help across the front seven.

    It’s unrealistic to expect a 3-14 team to fix every single hole in one offseason. Curious what “premium” positions you felt they ignored? Would’ve been nice to mention that in this article.

Leave a Reply