Two offensive coaches with NFL experience recently said the Chicago Bears have a “damning” reason not to bring back quarterback Justin Fields next season. The Bears locked up the number one pick in the 2024 NFL Draft following Week 17 after the Carolina Panthers lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Bears have several major decisions to make about their team in a pivotal offseason. General manager Ryan Poles’ most important choice is what the Bears do at quarterback. The Bears can run it back with Fields in 2024, or they have their pick of the litter in one of the best quarterback classes since the mid-2000s.
The Chicago Bears have a 4th quarter problem at QB
Dan Wiederer with the Chicago Tribune spoke to several NFL personnel about what the Bears should do with Fields and the number one pick. Most sources said the Bears have a tough decision to make between a serviceable starting quarterback and resetting the clock with a potential elite quarterback.
Fields has shown great playmaking ability but has a few issues with his play, such as throwing over the middle. However, two sources Wiederer quoted think Fields’ production in the fourth quarter is a reason to move on before the draft. Fields has a 52 passer rating in the fourth quarter this season, and it’s a stat that he’s regressed in from his career total:
“His fourth-quarter passer rating this season ranks 36th among the 37 quarterbacks with at least 50 fourth-quarter attempts, ahead of only the New England Patriots’ Bailey Zappe (48.3).
This, one former coordinator said, is a red flag. Bright red.
“It’s damning,” he said. “That tells you he’s just not an accurate passer, that he’s not processing at a high level. … There are just certain things that are in your DNA or they’re not. Sure, you can make improvements. A little bit. But those things are who you are.
Another NFC offensive assistant said fourth-quarter playmaking is essentially a crystal ball into how a quarterback would fare in the playoffs.
“Because you’re talking about known passing situations,” he said. “So a quarterback’s track record in that area should tell you a lot. When you’re in known passing situations, can you drop back, consistently make the right decisions and win the football game throwing the ball?
“That’s the fourth quarter. This is the NFL. It’s set up to be close in the fourth. And you’re going to have to throw the ball well to win the games. … That’s what this league is. And it ain’t changing. You’re going to have to win games in two-minute (offense).”
Justin Fields cost the Bears a playoff shot
Fields’ fourth-quarter play has cost the Bears a chance at the postseason. His costly turnovers against the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions (Week 11) cost the Bears a win. Fields wasn’t helpful in icing a win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 15. That’s nothing to say for his performance at the end of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.
The Bears need to find a quarterback who can play the position aggressively as a passer. For all of the playmaking ability Fields has, he hasn’t shown much of that in his three seasons with the team. There’s no way of knowing Fields will improve there in the future.
Because of the gift Carolina handed them, the Bears’ best option is to find a quarterback in this draft who isn’t afraid of throwing the ball. That’s Chicago’s best chance to win a Super Bowl in the future. Fields’ play (and his health) this season cost him his best shot of making the playoffs with the Bears.
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