Chicago Bears fans dreamed that their 2021 first-round draft pick, quarterback Justin Fields, would have the Patrick Mahomes NFL experience: immediate success followed by a Super Bowl victory and dominant playoff performances every year thereafter.
Sadly, that does not appear to be the trajectory that Fields’ young career is following. And this should be expected. What Mahomes did is an anomaly, the outlier, the exception to the rule. We’re foolish to expect most quarterbacks to succeed immediately in the NFL. So, unfortunately for Bears fans, they have to accept that Justin Fields is, in fact, human and that he remains a work-in-progress.
It’s also time to hold him accountable for his play. In Week 1, the monsoon-like conditions excused his poor first half (but don’t forget that he led three straight touchdown drives in the second half). In Week 2, the offense as a whole seemed out of sync, and dumb/questionable penalties early on drives certainly didn’t help. They were also facing a team that happens to be, much to our chagrin, very good at football.
I allowed Fields to have those excuses in those games. But not in Week 3. There’s no excuse for how he played against the Texans.
People can say he’s not getting enough chances to throw the ball, and that’s true. However, the Bears’ run game was dominant against Houston, so why would offensive coordinator Luke Getsy go away from what’s working? Besides that, the fact remains that Fields squandered his limited opportunities against a porous defense. There’s no excusing that.
Maybe Chicago’s receivers, Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet included, are not as good as Bears fans hoped. Maybe the new offense is taking a while to stick. Maybe he’s struggling with the new footwork and new throwing mechanics he’s learning. Whatever the issues are, they have to get fixed soon. Next week, the Bears play the New York Giants, who are no slouches, and then take a trip to Minnesota for their second divisional game this year. Starting 0-2 in the division this early could be tough to overcome.
The good news is that the season is far from over. Justin Fields’ career is not finished after 13 starts. He needs to start playing better, and there are plenty of opportunities left for him to do so. Hopefully, his sophomore season will be a tale of two halves: early struggles replaced by dominance late in the season. With a strong finish, heading into the offseason with a full slate of draft picks and the most cap space in the entire league could set the Bears up very well for 2023.
But first, Fields needs to be better. Turns out he’s human, which means we need to give him time to prove that he’s the Bears’ franchise quarterback. I still believe that he will be for many years to come, he just hasn’t proved it as soon as many had hoped.