Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields is a competitor. And that’s putting it lightly. He’s established a reputation of being one of the toughest players in the NFL in less than two seasons as a starter, which isn’t a surprise when looking back at his gutsy performance as an Ohio State Buckeye in the National Championship game a couple of years ago.
Week 12 marks the first time in Fields’ young career that he’s dealing with a significant injury. His separated left shoulder is probably bad enough to keep him out of Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, but the Bears will leave it up to him to decide whether he can play. Perhaps, that’s a bad idea. Fields is wired differently than most quarterbacks. The odds he voluntarily decides to sit out of a game are low, at best.
And then came Jets coach Robert Saleh’s comments about New York’s approach to Fields if he suits up.
“If he plays, we’re going to hit him,” Saleh said Friday. “If he doesn’t, we’re going to hit the next guy.”
Challenge accepted, coach.
Call it a hunch, but that’s the kind of bulletin board material that will push Fields over the edge and into the game. It’ll light the competitive fire that, perhaps, was dimmed a bit because of this week’s injury.
“He’s feeling better every single day,” Eberflus said of Fields’ health on Friday.
With two days of recovery remaining, the Jets may just get their opportunity to hit Fields.
Fields has proven over the last month that no matter how hard a defense tries to wrangle him to the ground, his superior skill set usually wins out. The Jets are one of the best in taking opposing quarterbacks to the ground, however. They rank fourth in the NFL in sacks.
If Fields suits up against New York, who’s fielding Mike White as their starting quarterback against the Bears, the advantage in the game will tilt heavily in Chicago’s favor. Perhaps Saleh shouldn’t have thrown fuel into Fields’ fire. There’s a good chance it’ll come back to burn him.