Two games into the 2022 NFL season, the Chicago Bears have the worst passing offense in the league. Bears’ quarterback Justin Fields has only passed for 191 yards in his first few starts of the season, with growing concerns regarding his development this year beginning to form. During this past offseason, first-year general manager Ryan Poles decided against adding an elite-level wide receiver to help with his quarterback’s growth, a decision that appears costly already.
Other Teams That Added Wide Receivers Are Seeing Massive Return On Investment
The 2022 NFL offseason had numerous blockbuster trades as several teams traded their best wide receiver to another NFL team or re-signed the pass-catchers to massive contract extensions. Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, AJ Brown, and Marquise Brown were all traded to new teams this past offseason, while Deebo Samuel, Terry McLaurin, and Dk Metcalf signed contract extensions. Bears fans and media were highly critical of Poles’ inability to make a stronger push to acquire a passing target to help aid Fields’ development.
A whopping 11 (!) receivers have signed deals worth $20M or more per year this offseason:
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) July 31, 2022
Throughout the offseason and the preseason, fans and NFL analysts shared concerns that Fields would not have enough proven wide receivers around him to help the quarterback consistently produce and grow in Chicago’s offense. Although an elite-level pass-catcher wasn’t added, Poles added several mid-tier wide receivers, including Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, N’Keal Harry, and Dante Pettis. The Bears’ general manager also used a third-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft to pick Tennessee wide receiver Velus Jones Jr.
The teams that acquired elite wide receivers this past offseason include the Las Vegas Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, and Arizona Cardinals. Three of the four teams have had their newly acquired pass-catchers make an immediate impact for their respective offenses. Adams, Hill, and Brown have each recorded 100-yard receiving games and had ten receptions or more in a game in 2022. St. Brown currently leads Chicago’s wide receivers with only three receptions in the first two games.
Bears wide receivers have 7 receptions in two games. Cooper Kupp had 7 receptions across 8 minutes of gameplay against the Falcons yesterday.
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) September 19, 2022
Although the Bears’ passing offense has been limited due to Fields only having 29 passing attempts through two games, none of the team’s wide receivers, including Darnell Mooney, have been able to make a difference. Mooney having two receptions for eight yards is extremely concerning as he had 80 receptions for over 1,000 yards receiving last year. Starting running back David Montgomery leads all Bears’ players with receptions with five.
The presence of the newly acquired wide receiver on new teams has boosted the level of play for quarterbacks. Derek Carr, Jalen Hurts, and Tua Tagovailoa have combined for 12 touchdowns, while each has already recorded games of 295 passing yards or more. Each quarterback has relied heavily on their new passing target. Additionally, the Eagles, Raiders, and Dolphins have been some of the most productive offenses in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season.
The teams that made big trades for WRs this offseason have to be thrilled.
A.J. Brown, Amari Cooper, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill all playing very well with their new teams.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 20, 2022
The Newly Acquired Wide Receivers Are Making Other Wide Receivers Better Also
The teams that either acquired a wide receiver or re-signed their wide receiver are seeing immense production from other pass-catchers on their rosters. The Eagles, Dolphins, and Commanders all have top-end wide receivers but are seeing other pass-catchers produce significantly. On Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle caught 11 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns, while Hill caught 11 passes for 190 yards.
Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle became the 2nd duo in NFL history to each have 170+ rec yds and 2+ rec TD in the same game:
Hill: 11 REC, 190 yds, 2 TD
Waddle: 11 REC, 171 yds, 2 TD pic.twitter.com/hrIsydZskO
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 18, 2022
Rookie wide receiver Jahan Dotson has caught three touchdown pass through the first two games of his career with the Commanders, and this is due to the presence of McLaurin, who is one of the best pass-catchers in the league. For Philadephia, Brown’s ten-reception game against the Lions for the Eagles led to fellow wide receiver DeVonta Smith recording seven receptions for 80 yards against the Vikings on Monday Night Football.
By not adding an elite wide receiver in the offseason, Poles not only limited Fields’ growth as a quarterback but also Mooney’s as a wide receiver. Opposing defenses have made it a point to take the Bears’ best wide receiver away from their second-year quarterback and force him to use other options when passing. For the last two years, Mooney was able to gain separation from opposing defenses as the defenses tried to stop Pro Bowl wide receiver Allen Robinson when Robinson was on the Bears.
— Bryan Perez (@BryanPerezNFL) September 19, 2022
Although the season is still young, it is concerning that the Bears offense has had almost no success passing the ball. If Fields’ play does improve during the season, Poles’ first offseason move needs to be to acquire an elite wide receiver via a trade or through the 2023 NFL Draft. Unfortunately due to all the trades and contract-extensions signed this past offseason, there are no prominent wide receivers available during next year’s free agency period, despite the Bears’ projected to have the most salary cap space.