Scouting and drafting quarterbacks is difficult. Really difficult. If it were easy, the Chicago Bears would’ve had a good one a long time ago. This is why fans are so nervous about Justin Fields. They desperately want him to be good because they’ve been tortured by erratic quarterback play for decades. More than any franchise in the NFL. Yet it is incredible to hear how people always seem to know when a guy has it or not after his first season.
Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago found this little detail out last week. Back in 2018, the veteran Bears reporter went down to the Super Bowl for the Eagles and Patriots. There he asked around for thoughts on Mitch Trubisky, the #2 overall pick who had just completed his rookie year. Several proven NFL people gave him their honest opinions. A lot of them weren’t encouraging. Would it be the same when he tried again with Fields?
“Interestingly, nearly all of those opinions were positive.
This seemed notable because that was definitely not the case in Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII, following Mitchell Trubisky’s rookie season. There were certainly people offering reasons for hope in early 2018, but there was also an overwhelming sense of hesitation when it came to the former Bears quarterback.”
This is rather refreshing to hear.
Everybody knows what they saw this past season. Fields had a rookie year to forget. In 12 appearances, he threw for 1,878 yards, seven touchdowns, and ten interceptions. He also had 12 fumbles. His turnover tendencies were alarming, made all the worse by the 36 sacks he took. One would think that would turn people off from his chances in the NFL. That is not the case. Many seem to believe he wasn’t the problem. It was the appalling way Matt Nagy and his coaching staff utilized him. There were enough flashes to offer hope that a competent system can get the QB pointed in the right direction.
“Geoff Schwartz, Sirius XM and former NFL offensive lineman: He just needs a chance. I think that offense was disjointed with what they did … But I think by the end of next season, middle of the year, you’ll kind of know if he makes those special plays.
Mike Golic, Westwood One: Justin Fields can move, but you can’t just move. You have to be a good passer as well. And he has shown signs of that … But absolutely, I think he can be developed with the right system.
Shaun Alexander, Former NFL MVP running back with the Seattle Seahawks: Swag and moxie — that’s an interesting thing because, one, you gotta have it, so it’s in you already. But then two, you got to be put in a situation where it’s not taken as arrogant or shutdown … A person like that, if he throws a couple good balls, everybody starts believing. That’s what Joe (Burrow) has done and I think Justin can do that.”
These are all guys who played in the league. They know what they’re talking about.
Whenever the Bears bothered to use Fields according to his strengths, they tend to find success. That meant bootlegs and play action. Move the pocket. This helped him find a rhythm, which led to some of his best performances. It was maddening to see Nagy and his staff continue trying to shoehorn him into an offensive scheme that was a terrible fit. Hence, aggressive teams like Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore were able to overwhelm the kid.
Justin Fields figures to get far better support moving forward
This comes in the form of new GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus with his retooled staff. Poles comes from Kansas City, where they’ve had a ton of success building around Patrick Mahomes. He himself is a former offensive lineman and has a reputation for finding talent in that area. Eberflus wisely hired Luke Getsy as his new offensive coordinator. A young, intelligent coach from Green Bay who has experience working with a hybrid talent like Fields.
In his first press conference, he stated that his job is not to install the QB into a specific system. It is to build a system around what the QB does best. Such an approach is antithetical to what Nagy tried to do last year. Obviously, actions speak louder than words, but it already sounds like Justin Fields is in way better hands now. If Getsy follows through on that promise, there should be a significant improvement at quarterback next season.
Especially if Poles can bring in reinforcements.
The Bears have a ton of opening on both the offensive line and wide receiver. Filling them won’t be easy. Thanks to the actions of Ryan Pace, the team is limited in terms of both salary cap and draft picks. So the new regime will have to get creative at retooling this roster.
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