Despite showing signs they might have figured out how to run a team, everyone now wants the Chicago Bears to ruin Justin Fields, their 2021 first-round pick (and hopeful franchise quarterback). How exactly? By suggesting there is some scenario outside of injury where he sees the field this coming season. That should absolutely not happen.
Why Does Everyone Want the Chicago Bears to Ruin Justin Fields?
State of the Franchise
The predictions on when Fields would supplant Andy Dalton as the Bears starter began flying almost instantly upon the trade up to select him. Some have proclaimed him ready and already the best quarterback on the roster, if not Bears history, before even taking a snap. Others say if and when he shows he’s ready, be it in camp, the preseason, or regular season, he should start.
The right answer, which happens to be the one the Bears are planning to stick to, is to let him sit the entire season (save for garbage time) as he gets acclimated to life in the NFL.
We’re not talking about physical ability; Fields is a specimen in that regard.
But the mental aspect of the game is hard enough and it can ruin a player to have to go through those lessons while also dealing with a subpar roster. How many people were saying the Bears were a quarterback away? Now, how many of those people meant a rookie?
This is a roster still in transition as they’ve already cut Kyle Fuller for cap reasons, gave Akiem Hicks permission to seek a trade at one point, and are hoping 2020 big-money free agent Robert Quinn has a bounce-back under rookie defensive coordinator Sean Desai. That’s a lot of change for a unit that was already showing signs of slowing down.
We haven’t even addressed the new-look offensive line. To assume that it will inherently be better with Teven Jenkins and someone (presumably Germain Ifedi) at the tackle spots than Charles Leno and Bobby Massie is faulty. We know how much continuity on the offensive line matters. Not to say overcoming the loss of either Leno or Massie is a tall order (it isn’t). It’s just risky to assume.
Then we have a receiving corps that was inconsistent last season. Now, it’s going to be counting on Darnell Mooney to be the second guy behind Allen Robinson. Will Cole Kmet take the requisite leap in his second season? Will the blocking in front of David Montgomery be better as it was towards the end of last season or was that just a function of facing poor opponents?
These are questions that will hopefully be answered in the preseason, but even that presents some issues.
Bears players were among the roughly two-thirds of the NFL to say they won’t be around for “voluntary” offseason programs, and there will be one fewer preseason game. This won’t directly affect Fields as rookies aren’t skipping anything.
But it does mean less time he will be around the veteran starters.
History is Muddled
There will be plenty of folks who point to the number of quarterbacks who have been thrown into the fire and done alright. And they aren’t wrong. But in speaking of the Bears, we must remember Fields’ handler is Matt Nagy. More specifically, we have to remember the process he went through with Patrick Mahomes.
Despite showing flashes of what was to come that preseason, it wasn’t until Week 17 of his rookie season that he got into his first game as a pro. Of course, KC was playoff-bound then.
Before anyone’s head explodes, this isn’t suggesting Fields will reach the same level as Mahomes. Nor that this method is guaranteed. It is familiar, however, to the person who will have the greatest impact on the former Ohio State Buckeye.
We talk about fit being so pivotal in any player’s development and, truthfully, this might be the best situation for Fields given how things are turning out in Kansas City. And, despite the lack of results, many around the league still believe in Nagy as a play-caller so don’t underestimate him with a quarterback he actually trusts.
That just doesn’t need to be this season.
Bears Should Stick to Script with Fields
One of Fields’ best traits is his ability to improvise. With the current state of the Bears offense, he could be forced to do more of that than anyone would like. The “he should play when he’s ready” take is valid in that you shouldn’t sit him just because. But in Chicago’s case, with the question marks still surrounding this group, that’s not what would be happening.
And if he doesn’t start to begin the year, what valid reason (outside of injuries) would there be to throw him in ahead of their planned schedule? If the Bears are decent with Dalton to start (unlikely) then why disrupt the rhythm? What about a free-falling team, should he be tossed into that? So no, you don’t sit him just to sit him and he may be ready early.
But will the team around him be ready?
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