Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields gave it his best shot in Chicago’s second and final game this season against the Green Bay Packers in Week 14’s Sunday night matchup. The Bears lost, 45-30, but it wasn’t because of problems at quarterback, although the rookie first-round pick certainly has room for improvement.
Fields was a productive dual-threat at Lambeau Field, completing 18-of-33 passes for 224 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions while adding 74 rushing yards on nine carries. With David Montgomery receiving just 10 carries in the game, the Bears’ offense began and ended with the ball in Fields’ hands.
Fields’ night was far from perfect, however, including this throw, which resulted in a Packers’ pick-six and was quite possibly the worst pass of his young career:
To date, Fields has completed 57.6% of his passes for 1,585 yards with six touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season. He’s added 385 rushing yards and two scores on the ground too, making his rookie year a mixed bag of memorable moments and rookie mistakes. In Week 14, Fields’ earned one of the worst grades of his young career from Pro Football Focus and was the team’s third-lowest graded player on offense. It’s understandable considering the magnitude of the mistakes he made—namely the turnovers—but sometimes, the analytics aren’t a true reflection of the on-field play. Fields was pretty good on a night that he could’ve absolutely stunk.
Remember: Fields is still recovering from a rib injury that forced him out of the last two games. He said the pain was bearable (no pun intended, I assume) but still impacted his game.
“In the back of my head, just trying to stay protected and not take any hits, of course,” Fields said Sunday night. “I think there was one sack where I just kinda fell down because I wasn’t trying to take a major hit.”
Fields suffered a new injury, a banged-up left hand, against the Packers but it shouldn’t keep him out of Week 15’s Monday-nighter against the Minnesota Vikings. That said, the Bears’ prized first-rounder is beginning to suffer the wear and tear of an NFL season. Add the fact that Chicago’s offensive line has been less than solid at times, and yeah, injuries are going to mount.
And with those bumps and bruises come nights like Sunday. The Bears came up short despite leading at halftime, and it’s fair to say that Fields didn’t do enough in the second half to give Chicago a chance to win. His ball security needs to get better, as does his processing time. The interception Rasul Douglas returned for a Packers touchdown is a perfect example of Fields’ continued acclimation to NFL speed. He telegraphed his throw and didn’t put nearly enough juice on the ball to reach wide receiver Darnell Mooney before Douglas got to the catch point.
The next step for Fields’ development is a pretty basic one: he needs to stack four good quarters together in a game that the Bears can realistically say they won because of him. If he finished the Packers contest the way he started, it’s very possible Chicago would’ve gotten that ‘W’ on Sunday.
Instead, at 4-9 and with nothing but pride left to play for, Fields will have four more games to use to his advantage. Sixteen quarters to develop, one pass at a time, for a 2022 season in which he’ll be the unquestioned leader of the team. Four games to flash some high-end moments, but more importantly, become a more consistent quarterback heading into his second year on the job.