Bears need to trust Justin Fields, starting against Commanders

The Chicago Bears and their fans were thrilled when the team drafted the quarterback Justin Fields Last year. It seemed like a possible answer to their longtime quarterback problem.

But the general manager and coach who were there when Fields was drafted have left. There’s no indication that the current regime, hired this past offseason, has much faith in Fields.

The Bears didn’t help Fields much around him in the draft or free agency. Their offensive line and receiving corps could both rank dead last in the NFL. Then the Bears called games like they would be happy if they never had to attempt a forward pass. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to expose their young quarterback behind a bad offensive line. Maybe they don’t believe Fields can handle more.

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Whatever the reason, as the Bears head into a Thursday night matchup against the Washington Commanders on Amazon Prime Video, they’re doing everything they can to hide a quarterback who was the 11th pick in the draft a year ago.

Justin Fields hasn’t overshot much

Last season Fields had some exciting times. A solid game on a Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers stood out. He was far from a finished product, but there were flashes that showed why he was one of the top prospects in the 2021 draft.

When you have a highly drafted quarterback showing good things as a rookie, you want to see a step forward next season. Organizationally, you usually help your young quarterback so that he can grow. The Bears strangely went the other way.

Last season, Fields attempted 25.5 passes on his starts and averaged 180 yards per game. This season, there are only 17.6 attempts and 135.8 yards left. These are numbers best suited in the 1960s. This is not modern football.

That’s with a 15-of-21, 208-yard game last week against the Minnesota Vikings when the Bears fell behind 21-3 and had no choice but to pass him further. Fields’ totals would have been better had it not been for a few drops. He played very well.

“The surgery was really good from Justin,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. via NBC Sports Chicago. “Justin had one of the best days of his career.”

Prior to that, Fields had no more than 11 goals in a game this season.

It’s not all about conservative appeals. Fields didn’t play very well at the start of the season. The Bears certainly know the infrastructure around him isn’t good, because they’ve done next to nothing to fix it.

It may be smart for Chicago to limit Fields as much as possible during what they hope will be a multi-year process. It is difficult to see how this approach contributes to its development.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields has passed for just 679 yards in five games this season. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Will Bears open it?

There is no one right way to develop a quarterback. Some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL played right away and carried heavy weight on offense, even on bad teams. Others sat and learned, or played in risk-averse offenses early on. There is no right answer.

It still doesn’t look like Fields is growing up. He’s just waiting. In five parts, it has as many successes (49) as cooper blow has receptions, which is one of the craziest stats of the NFL season. His first three games this season, he completed eight, seven and eight assists.

Last week showed that Fields is capable of more, even with a bad attack around him. It won’t be perfect. But Chicago can take steps forward with its quarterback. That sounds better than spending the whole season watching a first-round quarterback for 17 games.

Maybe Thursday night we’ll see more Fields in the passing game. The Bears were happy with his performance last week and it almost resulted in a comeback win. Until the Bears trust their young quarterback a little more, we won’t have much idea what his potential looks like.

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