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How the Patriots and Bears have changed since their last meeting

Related: Examining the roster ties between Patriots, Bears ahead of Week 7

New England Patriots v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The New England Patriots last met with the Chicago Bears on Oct. 21, 2018. The game was in Chicago and the Patriots snuck away with a 38-31 win.

Let’s see what has changed since then.

Patriots Changes

The following 11 players were on New England’s 53-man roster in 2018 who are still on the active roster in 2022:

OT Trent Brown, OT Marcus Cannon, C David Andrews, G James Ferentz, DE Deatrich Wise Jr., DL Lawrence Guy, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, CB Jonathan Jones, S Devin McCourty, LS Joe Cardona, ST Matthew Slater

Offense: Pretty much the entire offense has changed since the 2018 matchup. Tom Brady was the clear-cut starter then, but the starter is more of a question mark this time around. Will Mac Jones be back from his ankle injury? Even if he is healthy, will Bailey Zappe start over him? A lot of answers could be answered on Monday Night in terms of the quarterback battle if they are both active. Garrett Gilbert would most likely be elevated from the practice squad and be the primary backup if Zappe is forced to start.

The running back room is completely different as well, Rhamondre Stevenson is expected to get all of the work. Damien Harris would get a ton of touches as well if he can play through his hamstring injury but that is unlikely. They both were not on the roster against the Bears in 2018, when the position was led by the likes of Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead. Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong Jr. are the third and fourth backs on the depth chart right now and may see some snaps on special teams.

The pass catchers are completely different as well, with Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker the projected starters. Tyquan Thornton and — if they are able to play — Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne will also cycle in for a bunch of snaps. Back in 2018, those roles were filled by Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Josh Gordon, who had a 100-yard game. Phillip Dorsett also mixed in for certain snaps.

The tight ends, meanwhile, feature Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Back in 2018, the Patriots obviously still had Rob Gronkowski but he was inactive for the game in Chicago. In his place, Dwayne Allen filled in at tight end.

On the offensive line, three starters are still around. Trent Brown, who returned in 2021, David Andrews, and Marcus Cannon who was signed to the active roster this week. Brown will be at left tackle with rookie Cole Strange rounding out the left side at left guard. Andrews will remain at center with Michael Onwenu at right guard and Isaiah Wynn likely at right tackle (although Cannon, who was inactive in Oct. 2018, may be deployed there on occasion). Wynn was on IR in 2018 for this matchup, while the other starting spots were filled by the likes of Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason.

Defense: The Patriots return five defensive players who all continue to make an impact in 2022.

Along the defensive line, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Lawrence Guy are still with the team. Wise Jr. will be putting pressure on the quarterback, while Guy’s status is still uncertain due to a shoulder injury. Davon Godchaux and Christian Barmore should be the primary defensive tackles, replacing the 2018 group of Malcom Brown, Danny Shelton and Adam Butler. Barmore is questionable with a knee injury, and we could see rookie Sam Roberts fill his role.

Matthew Judon will be on the edge opposite Deatrich Wise Jr., looking to get sacks. He was not with the team in 2018, with Adrian Clayborn and Trey Flowers being the top edge rushers versus the Bears.

The linebacker room maintains Ja’Whaun Bentley, who suffered a season-ending biceps injury versus Detroit in 2018 and was out against Chicago, as a primary starter. On the other hand, Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, who started that game, are no longer with the team; they have been replaced by the likes of Bentley, Raekwon McMillan, Mack Wilson and Jahlani Tavai.

The secondary returns starters Jonathan Jones and Devin McCourty, who both saw action versus Chicago in 2018. Jalen Mills, Myles Bryant, Jack Jones, and Marcus Jones will be joining Jones in an attempt to slow down the Bears mediocre receivers. This was a job accomplished in 2018 by Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson. Jonathan Jones missed last week with an injury and his status for Sunday is in question.

At safety, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, and Jabrill Peppers will be on the field alongside McCourty. In 2018, the team captain was joined by Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung.

Special Teams: The special teams unit has changed a lot over the years as now Nick Folk is doing the kicking instead of Stephen Gostkowski, and Jake Bailey has replaced Ryan Allen at punter. Joe Cardona stays as the long snapper and Matthew Slater continues to be a primary player on coverage teams.

Brenden Schooler and DaMarcus Mitchell join Slater as the current primary players on the coverage units. McMillan and Tavai will also see a lot of work on this unit. Raleigh Webb also joined the group, replacing the recently injured Cody Davis.

Coaching: A lot of change has happened on the coaching staff since, but Bill Belichick remains as a constant. The new offensive play caller and offensive line coach is Matt Patricia, who was coaching the Lions in 2018. Joe Judge has moved from special teams to the offensive side of things and is now and offensive assistant and quarterback’s coach. Vinny Sunseri has taken over as the running backs job from Ivan Fears.

Defensively, former coaching assistant DeMarcus Covington is now the defensive line coach with Jerod Mayo coming aboard to coach linebackers instead of Brian Flores. Steve and Brian Belichick are coaching the linebackers and safeties, after working as a safeties coach and coaching assistant in 2018, respectively. Cameron Achord’s first year on the staff was 2018 and now he is the full-time special teams coordinator.

Bears Changes

The following three players were on Chicago’s 53-man roster in 2018 who are still on the active roster in 2022:

LB Roquan Smith, S Eddie Jackson, LS Patrick Scales

Offense: The Bears offense is completely different this time around. Justin Fields is the starting quarterback with Trevor Semian backing him up. This group replaces one led by Mitchell Trubisky in 2018.

The running game is improved as the backfield features both David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, who are both solid runners. This is very different from the 2018 one-two punch in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen who are both out of the league now. Khari Blasingame replaces Michael Burton at fullback.

The wide receiver room however has gone downhill as Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, Velus Jones Jr. and N’Keal Harry are the main weapons. They used to roll out Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller. At tight end, Cole Kmet handles most of the reps as opposed to Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen.

The offensive line is completely revamped as Braxton Jones will man left tackle and Ja’Tyre Carter at left guard. Lucas Patrick will man the center position this time around. Teven Jenkins will take the right guard duties and Larry Borom will be at right tackle. This replaces the offensive line of Charles Leno Jr., Eric Kush, Cody Whitehair, Kyle Long and Bobby Massie.

Defense: The defensive line returns no players as Robert Quinn and Al-Quadin Muhammad will be the starting defensive ends. Justin Jones and Angelo Blackson will man the middle of the defensive line. In 2018 the Bears started just two true defensive linemen against New England, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman.

The linebacking corps returns Pro Bowler Roquan Smith who will man the middle. Matt Adams and Nicholas Morrow each start as well for the Chicago defense. Joe Thomas will also see a lot of work in the middle. In 2018 the linebackers were the strength of the Bears defense as they rolled out Smith, Danny Trevathan, Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack.

The cornerback room features Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Lamar Jackson and Kindle Vildor. They take over for starters Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara and Bryce Callahan.

The safeties return Eddie Jackson who was a young starter back in 2018. Jaquan Brisker takes over for Adrian Amos at the other safety spot.

Special Teams: The special teams unit has seen a ton of turnover as well, but long snapper Patrick Scales remains a constant. Cairo Santos will be doing the kicking instead of Cody Parkey and Trenton Gill is the punter in place of Pat O’Donnell.

Herbert is the main kick returner for the team nowadays; Velus Jones returns the punts and can hurt teams with his lightning-fast speed.

Coaching: Matt Eberflus received the head coaching roll coming into the 2022 season. He replaced Matt Nagy who was the coach back in 2018. Eberflus wants to run the ball and play solid defense while Nagy was viewed as an offensive mastermind when he was originally hired.

The offensive coordinator is now Luke Getsy who is looking to help develop the second-year quarterback Fields. Mark Helfrich was the offensive coordinator for the loss back in 2018. Alan Williams was named the defensive coordinator of the Bears in 2022. He brings 30 years of coaching experience and looks to help develop a young defense. Vic Fangio was the defensive mind in 2018 before he left to coach the Denver Broncos.