A hot topic of debate among Chicago Bears fans through the first five starts for rookie quarterback Justin Fields has been development. For some, the week-to-week growth is apparent while others have a hard time seeing any sort of growth.
If you don’t believe me when I say that there are Bears fans out there who believe there hasn’t been growth from Fields, just go look at comments made on social media. There are literally people who will argue that Fields is playing as bad as former Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. There’s a massive difference between the two. Fields has started just five games. Meanwhile, Trubisky had just over three years, including two full seasons as a starter to prove himself. It’s simple math that screams something: Slow down the clock on making conclusions on Fields. Give him time and a chance to prove himself.
Week 7 showed us that while Fields threw three interceptions, the growth was still there. Let’s look at Fields’ first interception of the game. On a third-and-five from the Bears 40-yard line, the Bears trotted out in the shotgun formation. Fields intended to target wide receiver Allen Robinson on the right side of the field. It just so happened that Robinson slipped.
After the game, Fields explained what he saw on a play that inevitably gave Tampa Bay their touchdown of the game.
â€œIn the headset they were telling me we had 12 men on the field, so I was trying to snap the ball quick,â€ Fields said via the Bears official YouTube channel. â€œAnd then me snapping the ball quick, I think it caught our receivers off guard, because we were trying to get a flag, so me thinking that we had 12 men on the field, thatâ€™s a free play. So Iâ€™m thinking, â€˜All right, scramble around and stuff like that. And then, of course, I see A-Rob downfield and I think he slips and of course the pick. I mean, thatâ€™s just trying to get 12 people on the field, and then it just went bad from there.â€
This isn’t the first instance of Fields quickly identifying the Bears offense can get some extra yards via a free play. In week six against the Green Bay Packers, Fields saw another opportunity for a free play after seeing a Packers defensive lineman jump offside. Unfortunately, the referees opted to not give the Bears the call in a play that ended with a Fields interception. Being able to identify when the opportunity for a free play arises is growth from Fields in the context of knowing and understanding the situation and how to take advantage of it.
Let’s switch over to the second quarter. Remember how throughout the earlier portions of the season, Fields would try to make too much happen with his legs. It seemed like every time the 11th overall pick would take off and scramble, Fields would expose his entire body by using a spin move. Except against the Buccaneers, when Fields took off to scramble, he didn’t use a spin move. He simply decided to slide, ending the play, taking what the defense gave him.
Fields did admit earlier in the season that he needed to retire the spin move. And while it’s taken a few weeks, it worked. The rookie is quickly learning that when quarterbacks take big shots in the NFL, it can shorten a player’s career.
While many will look at Fields final statline 22-for-32, 184 passing yards, and three interceptions with zero touchdowns as a means of justifying whether or not Fields is progressing, film truly shows whether or not a player is improving.
So is it too early to write off Fields? Absolutely. This much I promise you: Nobody inside Halas Hall expected Fields to come in during his rookie season and magically light it up. Every team and every quarterback is presented with a different situation. So give it time. It took time for Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. It took at least three seasons for Josh Allen and two full seasons fro Kyler Murray. So give Fields the same time in what is the most anticipated rookie athlete since the Chicago Bulls drafted Derrick Rose in 2008.