In the fast-paced environment of the modern NFL, teams and coaching staffs simply don’t have as much time to invest in long-term QB projects. If you don’t show significant year-to-year improvements, a hotshot college signal caller will probably replace you sooner rather than later. Even though he’s shown growth, the same goes for Justin Fields.
Look no further than former Bears QB and No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky, or Fields’ fellow 2021 draftees Zach Wilson and Trey Lance. The NFL QB carousel is cutthroat, and only the best survive as long-term starters.
According to this article from Overtime Heroics, Fields still has the support of his teammates, but has he shown enough to earn a second contract, or are the Bears more likely to look elsewhere this offseason due to Justin Fields’ stats? Let’s find out.
Justin Fields has struggled early in his young career throwing the ball, although we have seen some solid year-by-year improvements to get him into the round of respectability.
Most important has been his steady decline in turnovers. The former 11th-overall pick struggled to keep a hold of the ball during his first two seasons in the Windy City, combining for 49 total fumbles and interceptions across his 25 starts.
But the 2023 season has been a different story. While he still struggles with fumbles, notably two nearly costly ones against the Minnesota Vikings, Fields is sporting a career-low 2.7% interception percentage. You can see the same improvement in turnover worth plays when it comes to Justin Fields stats, which is also a career-low 3.1%.
Add in career highs in completion percentage, net yards per attempt, and passing success rate, and you get a very respectable 92.3 QBR.
We’re not going to act like this puts him in the elite category, but it is a very solid mark, especially for a running quarterback who also has an outsized impact in the ground game.
Room for Improvement
Still, it would be disingenuous to act like he’s lighting it up out there. These gains have only brought him out of the basement as a passer, and he still ranks solidly in the bottom half of the league in most metrics. Combine that with one of the lowest drop percentages by his receivers in the league, and you start to wonder if even these modest gains are completely sustainable.
Another issue that we’ve already brought up is the fumbles. He already has seven in eight games this season, and not bringing that under control soon could spell doom for his future opportunities in Chicago.
A Franchise-Changing Opportunity
Ironically, the final nail in the coffin for Justin Fields on the Bears might be completely out of his control.
After trading down from the first overall pick last year with the Carolina Panthers, Chicago might have just lucked into the No. 1 spot this year due to that trade. The Panthers gave the Bears their 2024 first and more for the opportunity to select Bryce Young, a move which as of now appears to have backfired spectacularly due to Young’s poor rookie season.
The Panthers are 1-11, and in the driver’s seat to hand Chicago the first overall pick. In a loaded QB draft with potential stars like Caleb Williams and Drake Maye, it seems more and more likely that this is an opportunity the Bears can’t afford to pass on, no matter how much potential they think Justin Fields has.
Not only do you get the chance to draft a generational passing talent, but you also get them locked down on a long-term rookie deal, while Fields’ contract is set to expire at the end of next season.
Final Thoughts on Justin Fields
In a world where the Bears were winning more games and didn’t have such great draft capital, it would make more sense to keep Justin Fields long-term based on his improvement as a passer this season. But the chance to select a potential franchise QB doesn’t come around often, and Fields isn’t quite good enough to justify passing up on such an enticing opportunity.
While he still has a bit of time to change that perception, the former Ohio State star will most likely have to really light it up down the stretch to keep his job next season.
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