It didn’t take long for Justin Fields to find his footing as the Bears’ franchise quarterback, and it’s no surprise here.
The Bears’ irritating history in this position makes it the most volatile job in Chicago sports: the public is eager to hail you as a hero, and unless you live up to it immediately, the clock is ticking down on your exit. . Mitch Trubisky was wildly celebrated as the answer in 2018, then fell off the field during the following season.
Fields, who will sit out Sunday’s final game against the Vikings, has had the second-highest rushing season by a quarterback in franchise history and improved on most of his key passing statistics despite the Bears having minimal talent around him. .
Yet the idea of general manager Ryan Poles trading him and rebooting the situation with the No. 1 or 2 pick in the draft keeps cropping up. There are entire segments about it on both sports radio stations this week.
This would be an epic mistake.
Fields differs from previous Bears hopefuls in that he has an enduring skill set as a runner and has made progress as a passer without much help. He’s the best running quarterback in the NFL, and it’s been a while since any Bears quarterback was the best at anything.
When Giants owner John Mara assessed quarterback Daniel Jones a year ago, coming off his third season, he said, “We’ve done everything possible to spoil this kid.” The Bears could say the same about Fields after his first two seasons.
First, they let him through the adverse results of Matt Nagy playing on offense and his and Ryan Pace’s ill-conceived plan to take an elite college quarterback and stick him on the bench for his rookie season as if he were a project. Was.
Then they cleared all those issues and loaded new issues on it. While coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Gatesy have better matched their scheme to Fields’ strengths, every fear about the personnel placed around Fields has come true.
Some of it has also been scarier than expected.
It is common to see Fields facing pressure as soon as he completes his drop back, and since defenses can only reach him with a four-man rush, that leaves a detective to help him run. . All of that might be navigable if it had options in the bottom area, but often none are open. It is impossible.
Fields cannot call for absolute conditions. This is unrealistic. And virtually any quarterback can thrive when everything is right around him. He is not special. But while everything was going wrong around him, Fields managed to make clear progress.
He bumped up his passer rating by 13 points from his rookie season to 85.2 and made modest improvements in completion percentage (from 58.9 to 60.4), touchdown percentage (from 2.6 to 5.3) and interception percentage (down from 3.7 to 3.5) – all sacked League-high 55 times while going.
There’s still plenty of room to improve — he averaged 149.5 yards per game and threw for just 75 last week — but his improved efficiency shows he’s more likely to get better defenses and better targets. Will be able to produce.
If the Bears ever want to trade him, this would be the time to do so. His stock is high, and if he gets the No. 1 pick in the draft, he will have his choices of Bryce Young of Alabama and CJ Stroud of Ohio State. But they may be ticking off one of the few boxes they’ve actually checked this season.
Fields hasn’t made a case that he’s poised to be a top-five quarterback, but there have been enough signs that he’ll be at least as good. The Bears are best served to solve that problem and continue working through what looks like an endless to-do list with the rest of the roster.
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