Predicting Bears' Key Stat Leaders for 2021 NFL Season

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2021

Predicting Bears' Key Stat Leaders for 2021 NFL Season

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears are entering a new era in 2021. While head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace are back for another go, the Bears have made some significant changes at the game's most important position.

    Chicago parted with Mitchell Trubisky in the offseason, added veteran signal-caller Andy Dalton and traded up to select quarterback Justin Fields in the draft.

    If Dalton and/or Fields can significantly upgrade the quarterback position this season, the Bears will be a legitimate threat in the NFC. They managed to make the playoffs last season—albeit with an 8-8 record—despite shaky quarterback play from Trubisky and Nick Foles.

    Reliability at the quarterback position helps an NFL team at all levels. How much reliability will Chicago have and how will it affect the team's statistics this season? Let's make some projections for the Bears' key stats leaders in 2021.

QB Justin Fields

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    David Banks/Associated Press

    One thing we know for certain is that Chicago isn't going to rush Fields on to the field before he's ready. Trubisky was thrust into a starting role early and never fully developed in Nagy's offense. If Fields isn't ready to start right away, the Bears will lean on Dalton.

    "It's not gonna happen overnight," Nagy said, per Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports Chicago. "He's gonna be able to learn from great coaches and from great players that are gonna be [in] the same room from him. And he knows that."

    That said, it feels likely that Fields will get on to the field at some point this season. He's a dynamic dual-threat quarterback with a great level of field vision and some elite downfield passing ability. While Dalton has been an above-average starter at points in his career, he does not offer the same upside as Fields.

    At some point this season, Chicago is going to find it difficult to keep Fields out of the starting lineup—especially if it falls out of playoff contention. Even if the Bears remain on pace for the playoffs, expect them to look to get a spark from Fields sooner rather than later.

    Don't expect Fields to start all 17 games this season, but do expect him to outperform Dalton statistically.

    Prediction: 2,635 passing yards, 19 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 438 rushing yards, 457 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns

WR Allen Robinson II

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Even if the Bears see a relatively even split of Fields and Dalton at quarterback, the offense should be better than it was a year ago. The tandem of Foles and Trubisky underwhelmed more often than not, and Chicago finished the year ranked 22nd in passing and 26th in yards per pass attempt.

    Despite dealing with instability at quarterback, wideout Allen Robinson II managed to shine. He caught 102 passes for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. It wasn't a fluke. In 2019, Robinson had 98 receptions for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns.

    Robinson will have at least one more run with Chicago. While he'll be playing on the franchise tag this season, he isn't going to see it as a distraction.

    "I'm in a good place," Robinson said, per Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune.

    At worst, Robinson should be as prolific as he has been over the past two seasons. If he does get a boost from Fields and/or Dalton, he could conceivably vie for the NFL receiving title in 2021.

    Prediction: 107 receptions, 1,344 receiving yards, 11 touchdown receptions 

Edge Khalil Mack

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Improved quarterback play won't just boost the offense. If the Bears are able to play more consistently on that side of the ball—and put more points on the board—it's going to benefit the defense and its pass rush.

    Chicago ranked just 22nd in scoring last season, and opponents were rarely forced to play catch-up or to lean on the pass. Despite this, star pass-rusher Khalil Mack still finished the year with nine sacks and 31 quarterback pressures.

    If the Bears are even average on offense, Mack's numbers should jump significantly. Two years ago, Chicago ranked ninth in scoring, and Mack racked up 12.5 sacks and an impressive 47 quarterback pressures.

    While Chicago may not field a top-10 scoring offense this season, the additions of Fields, Dalton, rookie tackle Teven Jenkins and running back Damien Williams should help make the offense a middle-of-the-pack unit. That could be enough to help Mack return to the All-Pro form he showcased two seasons ago.

    Prediction: 13 sacks, 44 quarterback pressures, 6 forced fumbles, 51 total tackles, 1 interception