There is hope for the Chicago Bears. They may have been a last-place team in the NFC North with a 3-14 record, but they have had a successful offseason and several impediments have been removed from their vision.

They no longer will have to confront Aaron Rodgers on a twice-a-year basis since the longtime Chicago nemesis will be playing for the New York Jets in the AFC East. That should make the Green Bay Packers a significantly less difficult opponent to compete against.

Additionally, the Minnesota Vikings have been up against the salary cap throughout the offseason. They recently parted company with star running back Dalvin Cook, and that had more to do with his impact on the salary cap than a downturn in his performance.

The Detroit Lions appear to be on the rise, but this franchise has rarely been able to put consecutive winning seasons together.

So, the Bears should have an opportunity to improve under head coach Matt Eberflus and athletic quarterback Justin Fields. The Bears don't have a team of superstars to build on, but they have a couple of hidden gems who could help them build a respectable and potentially winning team.

RB Khalil Herbert

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The Chicago Bears had been dependent on David Montgomery for the bulk of their carries from the running back position over the last 4 seasons, but he left through free agency for the division rival Lions.

The Chicago coaching staff appreciated Montgomery's strength, versatility and consistency, but he was not able to help them become a winning team. However, the Bears are confident that the new combination of Herbert and D'Onta Foreman will help them make a significant improvement.

Herbert has been quite productive in his first two seasons with the Bears. He delivered impressive numbers last season by rushing 129 times for 731 yards, compiling an eye-catching 5.7 yards per carry with 4 rushing touchdowns.

If Herbert can come close to that yards per carry mark while increasing the number of carries to the 200-250 range for the season, the Bears will have a tremendous weapon on their side.

In addition to his rushing numbers, Herbert may become a key weapon for Fields in the receiving department. During his rookie season, Herbert caught 14 of his 16 targets, and that demonstrated the ability to catch the ball and make a play when he was given the opportunity.

Those numbers decreased a bit last season, but there's no reason why Herbert can't be a significant weapon as a safety valve or when running a circle route out of the backfield.

Eberflus may want Herbert to share the RB duties with Foreman. Even if that is the case, Herbert should prove to be a stellar weapon for the Bears this season.

LB Jack Sanborn

The  Chicago Bears liked what they saw from Sanborn during his rookie season. After a stellar college career at Wisconsin, the Bears signed Sanborn as an undrafted free agent.

He made an impression in training camp and in practice sessions, and once the Bears traded Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens, Sanborn got his chance to play regularly in the NFL.

Sanborn played in 14 games last year and started in 6 of them. He delivered 64 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and 3 quarterback hits. Sanborn is slated to start this season at the strongside linebacker position, and he could turn into the team's leading tackler his season.

Sanborn understands the Bears are depending on him for consistency. The trade of Smith let him know that he has to be prepared on an every-game basis in the NFL.

“It was kinda surreal and kinda not in the way that you would like it to go down,” Sanborn said when he learned he would be starting. “Just with the whole Roquan situation. He's such a great guy and not here anymore. I was kinda excited, anxious, and all that. But at the same time, it was like ‘Dang' you have to say bye to somebody that you began to get close to over the months.”

The moment was not too big for Sanborn when he got his opportunity. He knows even more is expected from him this year.


The Bears must show improvement in 2023, and that seems quite likely. But if they are going to make a run at the .500 mark or a playoff position, they need young players to step up.

Two of the best candidates are Herbert and Sanborn. They have a chance to rise to the position of team leaders based on their consistency and production.