Do Bears Need To Protect Justin Fields From Himself?

Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields’ ability to create something out of nothing is one of the many reasons why he’s a special player. His athletic skill is obvious. His arm talent is too. And as a result, he fights to keep otherwise dead plays alive, which, at times, can become risky business.

We saw this play out in Sunday’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders when Fields was bruised and battered more because of his on-field decisions than a breakdown in the offensive line. Fighting for extra yards or trying to spin out of tackles is great when it works—and when it does, it can make a player like Fields think it will keep working—but when it fails, the results can be catastrophic.

“At this level, things are faster and they hit harder, and so you’ve got to be smart with that,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said Monday. “You know, the third down, the one he took the shot there on that tackle and he came out, is one where you get to that, it’s third-and-4, right? Close to the sticks, so you’ve got to be smart there. But at the same time, you can get caught sometimes with how do you go down. Do you go for the first or do you slide?”

It’s easy to question a competitor’s decision-making after the fact and when the heat of the moment has cooled. Fields himself probably winced watching film this week, wondering why he allowed his body to take so much punishment. But this is also what makes him unique. He’ll never go down easy; it’s part of what made him a first-round pick.

“He’s just going to have to continue to learn when that happens and understand—we also want to be smart with that, too,” Nagy said of taking advantage of Fields as a runner. “You’ve got to be smart with how you use him and when you use him.”

Fields finished Sunday’s game passing for just 111 yards. He ran for only four yards. That’s 115 total yards in a game that included a blast to his ribs and nearly blowing his knee out. At some point, he has to realize that not every yard is worth that kind of beating. Just don’t try convincing him of that.

“I’m always going to bring that to the table,” Fields said this week. “I’m going to put myself out there to win games, so that’s what they can expect from me, just every play, every game, I’m gonna give it my all.”

Written By:

Bryan Perez

Staff Writer

Bryan’s past stops include covering the Chicago Bears as the managing editor for USA Today’s Bears Wire and as a Bears writer for NBC Sports Chicago. He’s covered the NFL Draft for various outlets, including his time as the co-owner of Draft Breakdown. In addition to his contributions in football media, Bryan spent time as a Northeast scout for the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, is a licensed attorney, and most importantly, a proud husband and the father of two sons.