Chicago Bears fans believe in Justin Fields as the team’s franchise quarterback… for the most part. There will always be a cluster of fans (and a beat writer or two) who live in the negative, but there’s a general feeling of confidence around Fields and his ability to lead the Bears in ways no quarterback ever has in Chicago.
Indeed, there are opinions of Fields outside the Bears fan landscape too, and it appears those opinions are cautiously optimistic and guided by a simple concept: Fields has a lot to prove in 2023.
Take Pro Football Focus’ 2023 quarterback rankings, for example. Fields checks in at 18th — essentially, he’s a bottom-half QB despite nearly breaking the NFL record for single-season rushing yards by a quarterback.
“Fields won himself a starting job last season with almost no help around him,” PFF’s Sam Monson wrote. “New general manager Ryan Poles stripped the roster of talent around him, and Fields was still able to emerge as one of the most dynamic players in the league. His passing is still very much a work in progress, but last season his primary targets were tight end Cole Kmet and speedster Darnell Mooney. This is a huge year for Fields to show what he can do with more help.”
It’s true that Fields has to take a step in his development as a passer in 2023. But it’s one he’s expected to make now that he has DJ Moore and a seasoned Chase Claypool as his primary wide receivers. The improved offensive line will give him more time to throw, too. It’s a recipe for success that simply wasn’t there for the Bears last year.
It was a tale of two seasons for Fields in 2022. He completed 60.4% of his passes last year for just 2,242 yards, 17 TDs, and 11 INTs but ran for 1,143 yards and another eight scores. If his passing numbers catch up to his rushing output, he could go from preseason rankings like Pro Football Focus’ to the MVP conversation by the time Week 18 rolls around.