Home Sports Justin Fields is the rarest of things: a Bears quarterback worth watching

Justin Fields is the rarest of things: a Bears quarterback worth watching


It’s hard to say how Chicago Bears fans should feel following their 27-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. No fans wants to see their team’s record drop to 3-8, of course, or resign themselves to the knowledge that they have no realistic route to the playoffs. Still, the loss provided more evidence that Justin Fields could be the quarterback that the Bears have been searching for since the bygone days of the Super Bowl Shuffle.

Now, however, the Bears have to worry about keeping Fields healthy.

Despite suferring their fourth straight loss, the Bears could have spun Sunday’s performance as a moral victory, a stepping stone toward becoming a legitimate contender in the near future. However, Fields was clearly playing hurt by the end of the contest and, once the game ended, he was carted off the field for further evaluation. Early in the game, he had received treatment on his hamstring but this time around the culprit appeared to be his left shoulder.

Despite the loss and the injury, Fields played well enough for his team to win against Atlanta. He threw for 153 yards, rushing for an additional 85. He had both a passing and rushing touchdown, with his single interception coming on his final drive where he clearly wasn’t himself.

“The pain right now is pretty bad,” Fields said, adding that he believed his shoulder was injured when he was tackled late in the game.

Fields said he stayed in the game because he wanted to give his team the chance to win. That’s exactly what you want to hear from your starting quarterback but, given that the Bears are dead last in the NFC North and looking at their position in the draft, it may make more sense for head coach Matt Eberflus to take the decision out of his quarterback’s hands.

According to Fields, he’ll take things “day-by-day,” which suggests that he hopes to play next week’s game against the New York Jets. If he’s fully recovered, he will play and he should. But if the team thinks there’s any risk, the Bears should think strongly about sitting Fields. More than just being their current starter, Fields is a symbol of the team’s future.

Chicago long ago acquired the reputation as a quarterback wasteland. There is a genuine statistical argument that Jay Cutler, a player who led the league in interceptions twice during his Bears career, is the most successful starting quarterback in Chicago history. Most Bears fans would certainly hand the award to Jim McMahon, the only quarterback to ever lead the team to a Super Bowl victory. Meanwhile, Sid Luckman, who retired in 1950, still owns some of the Bears’ passing records.

Since releasing Cutler in 2017, the Bears have been bouncing between the likes of Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton and other such placeholders. There was a reason that the Bears offered the New York Giants a haul for the 11th pick in the draft once it became clear that Fields would be available. Overlooked in a sea of tempting quarterback prospects, Fields practically fell into their laps.

Fields looked like a rookie in his first year, no question, but lately he’s been playing like he should have been the first quarterback selected in 2021 over the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance (who, to be fair, suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2). He has averaged 149.3 passing yards and 75.8 rushing yards per game this season, despite playing for a losing team with a porous offensive line. He’s 6ft 3in and 227lbs and yet can run 40 yards in 4.46 seconds, leaving even the fastest defenders in his wake (see, for example, the clip below). Nowhere was this more clear than against the Miami Dolphins in Week 9 when he set the NFL regular-season rushing record for a quarterback in a single game, with 178 yards. And that ability with his legs helps open up space for his receivers: his 13 passing touchdowns this season is nearly twice the total he managed in the whole of last season.

Right now, Fields is a work in progress: he’s more valuable in fantasy football than in reality. The Bears need a few more pieces to be a genuinely competitive team. As great as Fields has been, his contributions have not yet shown up in the win column because he’s not at a point in his career where he can carry a team on his back. If Fields is dealing with injuries, it makes no sense to push him given the transitional nature of this season. The Bears’ future appears far brighter than their muddled present.

MVP of the week

Jamaal Williams scored his 13th rushing touchdown of the season on Sunday
Jamaal Williams scored his 13th rushing touchdown of the season on Sunday. Photograph: John Munson/AP

Jamaal Williams, running back, Detroit Lions. With three in Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, Williams now has 12 rushing touchdowns on the season, the most in the NFL. Williams was a huge reason that the Lions pulled off a 31-18 road victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. The Giants fell to 7-3 and remain looking up at the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East while the Lions are now winners of three straight games. Granted, that’s only improved their record to 4-6, but when you’re a Lions fan it makes sense to celebrate whatever victories you can.

Quote of the week

“We’re going to take you to a more competitive matchup” – The CBS broadcast in the third quarter of the Dallas Cowboys’ eventual 40-3 demolition of the Minnesota Vikings

Networks very rarely switch away from their nationally broadcast games before the final few minutes of action, when everything is decided but the final score. However, sometimes a game becomes so obviously one-sided so quickly that the decision is easy.

And this one really should have been competitive too! A home win over the Dallas Cowboys would have improved the Vikings’ record to 9-1, tying them with the Eagles. Instead, the Cowboys’ defense sacked Kirk Cousins seven times and the offense did the rest By the game’s end, the Vikings had allowed more points this season than they had scored. Not the usual recipe for success, but the 9-2 Vikings remain firmly in control of the NFC North, a division where no other team is above .500.

Video of the week

There are two reasons to highlight this clip. First of all, it’s an almost-textbook kickoff return for a touchdown courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons’ Cordarrelle Patterson. Secondly, with this run, Patterson set an NFL record for the most kickoff touchdown returns in league history with nine. It ended up being key, as the Falcons defeated the Chicago Bears 27-24. Somehow, though, it wasn’t the most impactful special teams touchdown of the early afternoon slate.

Stat of the week

Zero. That’s how many punt returns for a touchdown there had been this season in the NFL until five seconds to go in Sunday’s meeting between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. That’s when the Patriots’ Marcus Jones caught and carried the Jets’ 10th punt into the end zone to break a 3-3. With the 10-3 win, the Patriots and Jets now have identical 6-4 records, with New England clinching the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Here’s a related stat: 14. That’s how many times in a row the Patriots have beaten the Jets. The Jets looked like they had a golden opportunity to end the trend, particularly since Patriots’ kicker Nick Folk missed back-to-back field goals at windy Gillette Stadium. However, (another) horrific outing from quarterback Zach Wilson, who went 9-for-22, ultimately caused them to drop an immensely winnable game. The Jets defense is one of the best in the league but with Wilson at quarterback they get very little help from their offense.

Elsewhere around the league

Patrick Mahomes was nerveless as he shredded the Chargers on the final drive of the game
Patrick Mahomes was nerveless as he shredded the Chargers on the final drive of the game. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

— The Kansas City Chiefs trailed the Los Angeles Chargers 27-23 with 1:46 left in the fourth quarter on Sunday Night Football. And yet it wasn’t much of a surprise that Patrick Mahomes led his team down the field to score a touchdown on the way to a 30-27 victory. Mahomes’ brilliance is so routine it’s easy to forget just how lucky we are to witness him play. The Chiefs are 8-2 and control the AFC West over the 5-5 Chargers in a division that was expected to be competitive. At the end of the game Justin Herbert wore the haunted look of a man who knows he has to face Mahomes for years to come.

— The Cleveland Browns and the Buffalo Bills faced each other … at Detroit’s Ford Field after the game was moved due to a snowstorm in western New York. It was something of a controversy among fans, particularly since there is a large contingent of them who prefer watching players in the worst possible weather conditions. Essentially losing homefield advantage didn’t hurt the Bills, who improved their record to an AFC East leading 7-3 after taking care of the Browns 31-23.

— The Houston Texans tanking project continues to be a success. This time around the Texans played the Washington Commanders and found themselves on the wrong (or possibly right) end of a 23-10 score. With the loss, the Texans are now 1-8-1 on the season and remain in the driver’s seat for the top overall pick in next year’s draft.

— The Eagles bounced back after experiencing their first loss of the season last Monday. Despite being down by 10 points heading into the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts, they came back thanks to two late Jalen Hurts touchdowns, one rushing and one passing, and won the game 17-16. The Eagles are now 9-1, still the best record in the NFL.

— A scary but all-too-typical scene in the Superdome on Sunday, as Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford went into concussion protocol after apparently hitting his head on the turf against the New Orleans Saints. It was particularly worrisome as Stafford had just emerged from concussion protocols two days earlier. Meanwhile, theoretical Saints backup quarterback Andy Dalton shone in the 27-20 Saints win, passing for three touchdowns. It’s quite likely that New Orleans stick with the veteran for the foreseeable future.

— The Bengals went into halftime against a Pittsburgh Steelers team still trying to incorporate rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Bengals, however, trailed Pittsburgh 20-17 at halftime and it looked like they could suffer a brutal loss. Luckily for them, they stabilized things in the second half on a day where Joe Burrow had four passing touchdowns and his team needed every single one of them. The Bengals avoided falling to .500 with the 37-30 win and lie just a game behind the Baltimore Ravens in the battle for the AFC North.





Source link

RELATED ARTICLES

Pant: ‘Compare my numbers when I’m 30-32, no logic before that’

Rishabh Pant has said that he would prefer to open in T20Is, while continuing to bat in the middle order in ODIs and...

USA v Iran was a referendum on Gregg Berhalter’s leadership. He won

Gregg Berhalter knows all about the magnified importance of fine margins in the World Cup. As a US defender he was denied an...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

New Zealand government tries to seize guardianship of baby after parents demand unvaccinated blood for surgery

New Zealand's government health service has applied to remove guardianship of a four-month-old baby girl from her parents after they demanded that her...

Crypto Exchange Kraken Cuts Global Workforce by 30%

Kraken, one of the longest running cryptocurrency exchanges, has shed its global workforce by 30%, firing approximately 1,100 people “in order to adapt to current...

Pant: ‘Compare my numbers when I’m 30-32, no logic before that’

Rishabh Pant has said that he would prefer to open in T20Is, while continuing to bat in the middle order in ODIs and...

Recent Comments