The Chicago Bears got the win in their preseason opener 20-13 against the Miami Dolphins, thanks in large part to rookie quarterback Justin Fields. We got an extended look at the 11th-overall pick. With just three preseason games under the new 17-games regular-season schedule. It was a nice twist after no preseason games last season.
Fields certainly did not disappoint in his NFL debut.
Bears Rookie Justin Fields’ NFL Career Off to Good Start After Preseason Opener
The former Ohio State Buckeye completed 14 of 20 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. He added five carries, 33 yards, and another score on the ground putting his full skill set on display. Even better for the Bears (and their fans), he didn’t look overwhelmed in his first football action since January.
After the game, Fields spoke on the speed of the NFL game in comparison to college.
Justin Fields on the speed of the NFL game: “It was actually kind of slow to me to be honest.”
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) August 14, 2021
That may seem premature for many considering it is Week 1 of the preseason. But it honestly might be more of a message to the coaching staff than commentary that could turn into bulletin board material.
Many were quick to point out that he was doing a lot of his damage against backups. That is true but he was also without three of his starting offensive linemen, his top wideout, and David Mongomery only took one carry for three yards before checking out for the afternoon. Those same critics were also quick to praise their team’s rookies for performing in similar situations.
Pump the Brakes
But that is just the point. Fields looked great once he got settled in — it took three drives to even get a first down — a lot of the offense’s struggles were due to lack of separation by the wideouts.
Fields had three straight passes deflected at one point, two of which were nicely thrown. But again, he got settled and began to use his feet more. Not just to scramble, but to set up the pass as he had nice finds after putting stress on the defense by approaching the line of scrimmage.
This was also a Dolphins defense that ranked 21st in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate last season. But they were 11th in sacks though, thanks in large part to strong coverage.
They’re still in a different class than the Bears opponent in Week 1 of the regular season, the Los Angeles Rams. Aaron Donald alone is a problem for teams but former Bears EDGE really came on for Sean McVay last season. Until the line gets healthy, starting Fields in the regular season against starters who have schemed for him all week could yield wildly different results.
News broke shortly after the game that the Bears were signing free agent and former Philadelphia Eagles tackle Jason Peters. The 40-year-old will compete to start at left tackle.
Matt Nagy said the signing was unrelated to second-round rookie Teven Jenkins but that would seem to be a contradiction on many levels. Jenkins has yet to practice due to back issues that we learned go back to college.
If Fields continues to perform as he did in this one though, Nagy will have a hard time justifying keeping him on the bench unless Andy Dalton is lighting things up.
Rodney Adams led all pass catchers with his four grabs and 57 yards. The former fifth-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings hasn’t seen NFL action since 2017. But he has developed quite the connection with Fields that was evident today. It was in stark contrast to both Riley Ridley and Javon Wims.
— NFL (@NFL) August 14, 2021
Robert Quinn was surprisingly impactful after dealing with his own back issues this summer. It’s a good sign for the 2020 free-agent signee after a rough first season in Chicago. Quinn had just two sacks after signing a five-year, $70 million contract with $30 million in guarantees. He earned the deal with his 11.5-sack 2019 but last season was a flop nonetheless.
The pass rush will be dangerous if he can keep up the effort he showed on Saturday.
DeAndre Houston-Carson had a nice interception in the end zone. He was one of four reserves filling in at safety or linebacker for the Bears. Hopefully, with the return of Eddie Jackson, Roquan Smith, and the others the special teams coverage will improve.
What’s Next after Justin Fields Impresses?
The Bears will face the Buffalo Bills who were 15th in sacks but second in Pass Rush Win Rate last season and added Gregory Rousseau of Miami in the NFL Draft. It’ll also be a big step up for the defense and, obviously, the return of Mitchell Trubisky. It will be interesting to see how much the Bills try to do with Trubisky after the Dolphins made an effort to get Adam Shaheen involved.
Shaheen came out for the coin toss and was Tua Tagovailoa’s target on his first pass.
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