Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields has been under a microscope as the team has gotten to a 0-2 start — and his poor play has been a big reason why.
There has been, predictably, a debate over whether Fields is the Bears’ quarterback of the future or if they should move on. The truth is, it’s a lot more nuanced than that.
We should start by remembering that development isn’t linear. One or two bad games doesn’t mean Fields isn’t the guy, but one or two good games doesn’t mean he is. Even the best QBs tended to have good coaching and a good line plus weapons — which Fields does not have right now.
Fields has a bad line, coaching that seems afraid of using his strengths, decent RBs, and one good WR with another who could be a good 2 and a third who has talent but is a head case. I am not saying I still think Fields is “the guy” — though I felt that way strongly last season.
There definitely has been regression. Some of the sacks the team has allowed in the first two weeks are on him, he holds the ball too long sometimes, and he’s been indecisive. But if we, as a fanbase, were too quick to anoint him last year, we may also be too quick to jump off the bandwagon.
I understand it. NFL fans are always impatient when it comes to QBs, and we in Chicago are worse than most because we have been starved for good QB play for so long. But in Fields, the Bears finally have a guy with some talent. In the past, we’ve been subjected, more often than not, to stiffs who couldn’t throw. By contrast, Fields has the ability — that much seems clear. The challenge is — can he harness it?
It’s possible that Fields won’t take the leap. And it’s obvious Bears fans are frustrated since the last win was a year ago — even accounting for the fact that last season was supposed to be a “tank” season. It’s also clear that many fans and some pundits decided, with little available evidence, that the Bears were a playoff team this year and set expectations too high. Despite the fact that the GM himself said they were no more than 80 percent there.
Furthermore, it doesn’t help that with a week between games, pundits and fans tend to overreact to each week.
There are also other distractions swirling, such as the Alan Williams resignation, injuries to key players, the Chase Claypool situation, and the lack of production from the defense.
So maybe let’s cool out. We’ll know by the season’s end, barring injury, if JF1 is the dude or not. Either he’s going to get better or he’s not. But as terrible as these two games were, it’s too small a sample size.
Check back when the final horn sounds on the 17th game.