Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields might have just two years to prove he’s the guy
As a rookie, Chicago Bears Justin Fields had the worst possible season for a first-year quarterback that came with so much hope and hype. Fields is an athletic freak coming in at 6-foot-3 224-pounds and running a smoking 4.43 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Fields was also graded as the most accurate college football QB of the ProFootballFocus era.
But in typical Chicago Bears fashion, Fields struggled mightily in his first year in Chicago. Immediately Fields matched his predecessor for a statistic that was three decades in the making.
In the last 35 years, only 2 First-Round QBs have thrown fewer than 8 TDs in their rookie season while starting at least 10 games.
🏈 Justin Fields
🏈 Mitchell Trubisky
— Dustin Baker (@DustBaker) July 2, 2022
Not the statistic or the QB Bears fans want to see Justin Fields linked to but here we are. While that’s a concerning stat, it in no way means that Fields will be a bust. The problem is the Bears need him to take a massive leap from year one to year two in order to show signs that he’s more than just an also ran QB.
Bill Walsh architect of the West Coast offense said of ex-49ers QB Steve DeBerg before he brought in Joe Montana to lead the 49ers to four Super Bowls, “He’s just good enough to get you beat.” DeBerg was essentially Jay Cutler before Cutler was born, throwing for a bazillion yards leading his team down the field, but seemingly always finishing up drives with an ill-timed and extremely costly interception.
Therein lies the conundrum with the QB in today’s NFL, arguably the most important position in all of sports, if you’re ever going to have success you’re going to need a top line starter at the position. An example of how important the QB position is, if fans want their team to appear in at least two Super Bowls during the tenure of their franchise QB, that QB needs to be a Hall of Fame level QB.
Why such a lofty expectation to start in two Super Bowls a statistic to prove just how vitally important it is. In the Super Bowl era, of QBs with at least two Super Bowl starts only three of those QBs have not been enshrined into the Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio. The statistic currently is “higher” but the likes of Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes all pretty much seem destined for the gold jacket.
Working against Fields, the NFL is littered with also ran QBs, players that have been so good statistically that they’ve been year over year consistent starters and have played at a high level for a very long time, but have never put their teams over the top. Among the most recent iterations of this QB would be Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton and Matt Ryan. Among those five QBs only Ryan has one Super Bowl appearance. Then you have the talented hanger on QBs, like Marcus Mariotta, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jameis Winston, and Carson Wentz.
Matt Nagy’s approach with Justin Fields
Matt Nagy wanted to take a wait and see approach with Justin Fields, but unfortunately Andy Dalton’s injury combined with mediocre play left him with no choice but to play Fields immediately.
The Bears can’t afford to get caught up in the athleticism and potential of Justin Fields. As unfair as it may seem and even out of the realm of common-sense Fields, needs to lead the Bears to the playoffs in the NFC in his second year.
Why? First the NFC is wide open because of the very statistic that holds teams back, the also ran QB. Brady Rodgers and Stafford rank as the top three QBs in the NFC so they’re almost guaranteed to have their teams in the playoffs. That leaves four other playoff spots for the likes of Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Cousins, QBs who have clearly established themselves as long term starters with either upside potential or who have been productive. Fields has to outplay those QBs over the next two years to prove he can take the Bears to the level the franchise has not seen in the era of the modern NFL.
The pressure is on the Bears to be instant contenders because a great QB can overcome many shortcomings. He also can deal with the flaws within his own team to take his team to the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers has done it year after year despite the Packers having arguably having one of the worst first round draft pick track records since drafting Rodgers in 2005. Since then the Packers have been abysmal at drafting players to supplement Rodgers’ talent. Only Jaire Alexander is among the notable remaining first round players contributing to Rodgers potentially getting back to the Super Bowl.
Can Justin Fields overcome OL problems?
Joe Burrow overcame a horrible offensive line and a shaky defense to lead his team to the Super Bowl in his second year. DeShaun Watson led the Texans to 11-5 and 10-5 records in his second and third years as a starter despite a heinous offensive line. Fields lacks the ideal situation to put the Bears into the Super Bowl, but he doesn’t lack talent around him to get the Bears a wild card spot among the seven playoff spots available.
There is no room for excuses in the NFL, Bears fans should no longer cut their QB any slack the way they did for Jay Cutler. They shouldn’t expect a near flawless offensive line or a defense first mindset that has been the lynchpin for the Bears’ success in 1985, 2006, 2010 and 2018. On the contrary the entire vision of triumph rides solely on the arm of Justin Fields.
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