Justin Fields faced elevated expectations going into 2022. A natural byproduct of a player entering his second season. Football experts say this is when the biggest jump in productivity usually occurs for an NFL player. It is no different for quarterbacks. Despite uncertainty on the offense around him and a brand new coaching staff, Fields is still a former 11th overall pick. The Chicago Bears invested a lot of resources into him because they feel he has a chance to be an excellent player.
That leads to an interesting question. What would constitute a successful second season for the Fields? Or at least an acceptable one. To help answer that, I researched other quarterbacks who started and struggled during their rookie seasons. Players that ended up becoming productive down the road. What did their second years look like? I leaned on one stat above anything else to get a firm grasp—passer rating. While not always definitive, it offers a steady barometer for how well (or poorly) a QB plays.
Year 1 – 61.9 Year 2 – 79.4
Year 1 – 71.2 Year 2 – 90.7
Year 1 – 60.1 Year 2 – 77.8
Year 1 – 55.4 Year 2 – 75.9
Year 1 – 61.0 Year 2 – 91.3
Year 1 – 63.6 Year 2 – 100.5
Year 1 – 89.8 Year 2 – 108.3
Year 1 – 67.8 Year 2 – 85.3
Those numbers tell a reasonably clear story. If they’re going to be good, most young quarterbacks usually saw a 15-20 point jump in their passer rating going from the first year to the second. Fields finished the 2021 season with a 73.2 rating in 12 games. Based on these parameters, expectations should be that his 2022 rating must finish somewhere between 88 and 93 to be considered a reasonable success.
From an actual numbers standpoint, there are a few examples. Matt Ryan threw for 4,581 yards, 26 TDs, and 11 interceptions for a 93.3 passer rating in 2020. Baker Mayfield threw for 3,725 yards, 27 TDs, and 14 interceptions in 2018. Stafford threw for 4,327 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 2016. This is the relative ballpark that Justin Fields will be shooting for if he wants to make similar improvements to those quarterbacks listed above.
Most Bears fans would likely be more than satisfied if that were to happen. No quarterback has reached numbers like that in many years. Mitch Trubisky came close in 2018, and people called that one of the better passing seasons in franchise history. It doesn’t have to be about suddenly becoming an All-Pro for the 22-year old. More a matter of taking a step in the right direction.
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