The best leaders lead through their actions. It’s especially true in football, where guys will fall in line and follow a player who proves they’re tough, reliable, and, of course, extremely talented.
Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields is checking all those boxes in his second season in the NFL, and despite the Bears’ 27-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11, the respect for him inside the Bears locker room continues to grow.
“[Fields] did some amazing things again,” said center Sam Mustipher after the game. “The guy is unbelievable; just the way he’s able to manipulate the pocket, set up blocks for us when he does and scrambles. And then to have the vision and awareness to get the ball down the field to move the chains in those situations where we got behind the sticks is crazy. We’re very fortunate to have a quarterback like that.”
Fields finished Week 11 throwing for 153 yards, running for 85, and scoring two touchdowns. He was bruised and battered by the Falcons for four quarters but refused to quit, even after suffering a left shoulder injury that required attention after the game.
“He very tough,” Brisker said of Fields Sunday. “Especially, the league, if that was a different quarterback, they would be throwing hella flags. A lot of flags. I feel like the league has to look at that. It’s crazy how many times he gets hit in the head every single game, but he still gets up.”
Brisker didn’t hold back when criticizing the referees after the Flacons game, and his points were all fair.
“If that was Tom Brady, Jared Goff, or anybody like that, they throwing flags immediately. Just as you seen today. They threw a flag to Mariota, and he tripped over himself. I feel like they got to respect Justin some more and look at him as a quarterback because, obviously, there you should be more flags. He’s getting targeted every single game and none of them are being thrown.”
It’s rare that there can be so much optimism around a 3-8 team. Fields, though, is proving to be a rare talent. And his special qualities extend beyond the field. His teammates believe in him. Early in the season, it was his toughness that warranted respect. Now, it’s his ability to put defenders in a blender and his toughness that have everyone inside Halas Hall believing they can achieve special things with Fields under center.
It’s up to his teammates — and maybe some help from the officials — to make sure Justin Fields gets the protection he needs to keep him on the grass. He didn’t get it against the Falcons, and it could cost him games in a critical developmental year.