The Chicago Bears knew they didn’t have the infrastructure to help a younger quarterback once they traded two first spherical picks to maneuver up for Justin Fields within the 2021 NFL Draft. In a league the place nothing is extra worthwhile than including a QB on a rookie-scale contract to a win-now roster, the Bears selected to usher in Fields to an already decaying depth chart in a transfer motivated by nothing greater than pure desperation.
Head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Tempo each ought to have been fired earlier than that they had the chance to draft Fields. As a substitute, Chicago’s comically incompetent possession group allow them to have yet one more season earlier than mercifully pulling the plug. Tempo and Nagy had already failed at constructing a championship-caliber workforce within the wake of the notorious double-doink, with Tempo’s trust-your-gut strategy botching draft picks and wage cap house whereas Nagy twisted his mind right into a pretzel each time he known as a play. Bringing Fields into that mess was its personal sort of Hail Mary: the present scenario was unsalvageable, however maybe Tempo and Nagy may save their tarnished legacies by lastly delivering Chicago a franchise quarterback earlier than they had been inevitably fired.
Fields possessed all of the expertise to be nice. He was stamped as among the finest highschool recruits of the century by 247 Sports activities. He was a famous person from the second he stepped onto the sphere for Ohio State, throwing 41 touchdowns to a few interceptions in his first 12 months as a starter. He famously out-dueled Trevor Lawrence to beat Clemson within the Faculty Soccer Playoff, placing collectively a superb six landing efficiency within the win regardless of enjoying a lot of the recreation with damaged ribs.
Past his immaculate pedigree and staggering manufacturing, Fields additionally had overwhelming bodily presents that any armchair evaluator may see: he was constructed like a brick home at 6’3, 230 kilos, with a rocket launcher for a proper arm and blazing pace licensed by a 4.44 40-yard sprint time. Most spectacular of all, Fields was extremely correct each time he threw the soccer.
Fields had each element to be a famous person quarterback, however overcoming actually 100 years of Bears offensive ineptitude was going to be a monumental problem in itself, even earlier than factoring within the crumbling supporting forged round him.
The 2021 Bears will principally be remembered for a tweet calling Andy Dalton “QB1” and the much more puzzling determination to present Dalton worthwhile first workforce reps in follow over Fields. When Fields ultimately did discover his means into the beginning lineup, his debut in opposition to the Browns resulted in one of many worst offensive performances in NFL historical past: the Bears gained 47 yards on 42 performs, with the QB being sacked 9 instances behind a porous offensive line.
The Bears lastly fired Ryan Tempo and Matt Nagy after a 6-11 season. The wise transfer would have been to take a position each useful resource in Fields’ growth. As a substitute, the Bears did principally the other of that.
New GM Ryan Poles employed head coach Matt Eberflus as his first transfer, selecting the Colts defensive coordinator over spectacular offensive minds like Mike McDaniel and Brian Daboll. The Bears’ huge transfer of free company was signing Bengals defensive sort out Larry Ogunjobi to a $40 million deal … solely to see him fail his bodily and have his contract voided. When the Bears got here up within the draft, they spent their first two picks on protection as properly, taking cornerback Kyler Gordon and security Jaquan Brisker over a couple of members of what was presupposed to be a loaded vast receiver class.
The Bears misplaced their prime receiver within the disappointing Allen Robinson in free company, however didn’t change him with anybody worthy of the identical standing. They misplaced arguably their greatest offensive linemen in James Daniels, too, and didn’t do a lot to interchange him both (Chicago tried to signal Payments guard Ryan Bates, however Buffalo matched their supply sheet).
The Bears headed into the season with essentially the most lifeless cap within the NFL and the smallest payroll within the league. This was presupposed to be a 12 months the place the Bears would backside out, give some younger gamers an opportunity to show themselves, and see what that they had going into the following offseason once they would have extra cap house than any workforce. It’s a plan that might have made loads of sense in the event that they didn’t have already got essentially the most gifted QB in franchise historical past losing away on a roster with none intention to help him.
The worry going into this season was that Fields’ growth can be compromised by maybe the NFL’s worst offensive line and worst group of vast receivers. These fears have principally performed out by way of the Bears’ 2-4 begin.
The Bears haven’t been capable of shield Fields all season. After permitting extra sacks than any workforce in 2021, Fields has once more been sacked as a lot as any quarterback this season. He was drilled repeatedly in Chicago’s heartbreaking Week 6 loss to the Washington Commanders, with a relentless stream of stress resulting in some huge hits on the QB’s physique.
Up to date QB/blocking sack numbers and improved the anticipated sack charge. Was in a position so as to add extra detailed variables like variety of move rushers & dropback depth.
Fields appears to be like unhealthy, however his blocking can be is the worst with this replace.
Herbert the perfect at stopping sacks pic.twitter.com/v7xfufzn2t
— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) October 14, 2022
Justin Fields was pressured 18 instances tonight, tied for essentially the most in a recreation in his profession.
Fields has now been pressured on 46% of his dropbacks this season, the best charge of stress a QB has confronted within the first 6 video games of a season since ESPN started monitoring pressures in 2009. pic.twitter.com/ol5CdnPXK8
— ESPN Stats & Data (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 14, 2022
The vast receiver play has additionally been abysmal. Darnell Mooney made arguably the perfect catch of the season in opposition to the Vikings, however has principally regarded overmatched in a WR1 function. The Bears have nobody alongside him who can actually threaten a protection: with free agent signing Byron Pringle on IR with a calf damage, the remainder of the WR room is made up of gamers who barely should be on an NFL roster. The move catchers hit a low level when Ihmir Smith-Marsette was stripped throughout a possible game-winning drive in opposition to Minnesota.
The offensive playcalling has additionally been about as conservative as will be. The Bears are enjoying soccer prefer it’s 1982 as a substitute of 2022, selecting to pound the run on the expense of exploring the place Fields will be efficient as a passer. The Bears threw the ball lower than 20 instances in every of their first three video games, and nonetheless have by far the bottom passing share within the league.
A foul line, unhealthy receivers, and poor playcalling has put each mistake from Fields below a microscope. Fields has missed open receivers and air-mailed throws to make certain, however every miss has felt extra devastating than it ought to just because the Bears give him so few alternatives to make a play within the passing recreation.
Surrounded by such marginal expertise in each different spot on the offense, Fields has needed to take it upon himself to present the Bears an opportunity to win. In some way he’s executed precisely that regardless of making loads of errors himself.
In crunch time in opposition to Washington, Fields took off for a superb 39-yard scramble to place the Bears into the purple zone. As soon as on the purpose line, he made two game-winning touchdowns throws that his receivers both dropped or failed to attain on.
Fields was on his approach to one other game-winning drive in opposition to Minnesota earlier than the Smith-Marsette fumble. It could have mattered if this wonderful landing run counted. As a substitute, it was introduced again for a block within the again.
Fields has confirmed he can throw a pleasant deep ball, too. He hit Dante Pettis for an unimaginable throw for the Bears’ first landing in opposition to the Commanders, and has discovered Mooney a couple of instances on deep photographs as opposing defenses load as much as cease the operating recreation.
Fields doesn’t all the time see open receivers. He missed a simple landing throw within the second quarter in opposition to the Commanders. He nonetheless has an issue holding onto the ball too lengthy when he drops again to move. The bodily instruments are all there for Fields, however his processing can nonetheless run a little bit gradual.
The early success of quarterbacks like Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes have put extra stress than ever on younger quarterbacks to succeed. The fact is that even Mahomes and Herbert would have had hassle breaking out behind this Bears offensive line whereas throwing to those Bears receivers. Fields optimists solely want to have a look at the third 12 months enchancment of Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts to see a developmental path the Bears’ QB can observe. In fact, Tagovailoa and Hurts play for groups that prioritized defending them up entrance and surrounding them with game-breaking weapons within the passing recreation.
The Bears want to make use of their cap house and draft capital to repair this offense round Fields. They want a top-line, go-to receiver, after which yet one more competent move catcher who may also help transfer the chains. They want two new offensive linemen at minimal. Poles and Eberflus merely can’t proceed including to the protection earlier than they deal with the pathetic offensive expertise round their younger QB.
There’s nonetheless loads of time for Fields to stay as much as the hype. He has the arm to make any throw, so long as he realizes it’s there. He has a particular capability to increase performs and prolong drives along with his legs. The contact on his deep ball is actual, and must be a significant precedence of the Bears’ passing assault transferring ahead.
For any of this to occur, although, Justin Fields wants some assist. Up to now, the Bears haven’t given him any.