Bears quarterback Justin Fields wants to be great.
“He wants this to be his franchise – he wants this to be his city,” quarterbacks coach Andrew Janoko said. “The way he acts. Spend five minutes with the kid and you’ll know he’s a friend. He’s a dog. He’s an alpha. You spend a little time with him and you know. This guy, he wants to be.
However, he will not be the face of the franchise on Sunday. He’ll be just like everyone else at a half-filled Soldier Field: sitting and watching one-time third-stringer Nathan Peterman play quarterback in the season finale against the Vikings.
The reason: The Bears’ roster and offense have failed so spectacularly this season to render the playing fields — the most popular, thrilling quarterback the Bears have been in two generations, if not longer — unproductive.
The Bears 3-13 are encouraged to lose on Sunday; If they do that and beat the 2-13-1 Texan Colts, the Bears will have the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. The Bears have never had a 14-loss team—and haven’t selected a team first overall since 1947.
If they lose and the Colts win, the Bears will draft second. If the Bears win, they will draft no lower than fourth.
Fields was ruled out Wednesday with what the Bears said was a hip injury. The Bears say that team doctors would not have cleared him even if a playoff game awaited him on Sunday, a claim that is almost impossible to believe, given the difference in stakes.
Janoko said that Fields was “sarcastically” held up.
“Dude wants to play,” he said. “He’s a competitor.”
However, he will not do this, as it does not help the bears.
Head coach Matt Eberflus said, “Looking at other guys, they will get something out of this performance.”
Part of the Bears’ failure this season was certainly by design. They’re paying out $93.2 million in dead cap money — on account of players on the roster — and $30.6 million for players on injured reserve. Sunday’s active roster will cost $78.8 million, or about 37.5 percent of their total payroll. Only two players who played on Sunday — guard Cody Whitehair and defensive lineman Justin Jones — have cap hits greater than $4.5 million this season.
With a questionable roster, the Bears’ production fell off after Thanksgiving.
In the past five weeks, only three teams have scored fewer points than the Bears’ 62 points – less than half of their total of 125 points in the prior five weeks. Through the last five weeks, only the aforementioned Colts have a larger point difference than the Bears -67.
In Sunday’s 41–10 loss to the Lions, the Bears averaged 1.07 yards per pass, the worst mark of any NFL team this season. It was the fifth-worst average of the past five years — behind, among other games, Fields’ own 0.03 in the infamous 2021 loss to the Browns.
it was a mess.
,[Fields] and then i talked in the locker room [the Lions game],” Janko said. “When we’re sitting in the locker room next year, we know what game we want to play next year and where we want to be when that game is next year, and what we need to do to get there. And also how can we prevent such incident from happening again.
“So when we are in a scenario, that game is different next year. Then we will be ready for it and respond to the challenge.
In the meantime, though, Fields will have to watch.
The rest of us can get away.
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