Justin Fields is the undisputed starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears and that won’t change. However, many around the league are beginning to show a lack of confidence in Fields due to his extremely poor start to the season. After 3 games, Fields ranks last in yards, 31st in QBR, and 26th in interceptions. He also is overwhelmingly last in attempts and completions. Many are beginning to question if he is the franchise quarterback the Bears and their fans desperately hope he can be. Let’s take a look at why people are thinking this way.
The Week 1 rainy day matchup against the 49ers was a mixed bag of sorts. It was game one of the new regime, however we were unable to get a real look at what the offense would look like. Fields did not have a great start to the game, whatsoever. His first half splits were:Analyzing Justin Fields thru Week 3
3/9, 19 YDS, 0 TDS, 1 INT, 2.8 PSR
The Bears first half offense completed a whopping 0 catches to receivers or tight ends. Fields was practically immobile, and played like a pure pocket passer, and even then not finding any success. All 3 catches were out of the backfield, and for very short yardage. In addition to receivers struggling to create separation, Fields missed wide open receivers when separation did happen. The interception he threw was bad, as he completely didn’t read the safety and allowed him to jump the route on an underthrown ball. Fields was completely ineffective in half number one.
The second half was much more favorable, and where Fields showed much more potential. He finished the game with a line of:< /br>
8/17, 121 YDS, 7.1 AVG, 2 TDS, 1 INT, 50.4 QBR
Fields had a tremendous second half. With the help of halftime adjustments from Luke Getsy, Fields had more rollouts and designed runs. Fields extended plays and threw much more accurately. On a broken play, Fields used his legs to buy time, then floated a ball to a wide open Dante Pettis for a 51 yard touchdown that changed the course of the game. Fields was able to fit passes into tight windows, throwing accurate and strong passes even in the poor rainy conditions. His touchdown to Equanimeous St. Brown was perfectly placed behind 2 closing defensive backs. He still struggled a little with reading the secondary, as a ball on the sideline was jumped but dropped, for what should have been Fields’ second interception. All in all, it was a good win and a good week for Fields in extremely poor conditions.
Week 2 against the Packers was not a very good showing for Fields. He finished the game with a statline of:
7/11, 70 YDS, 6.4 AVG, 0 TDS, 1 INT, 6.4 QBR
Throwing the ball 11 times is obviously not giving Fields much of an opportunity to do much. However when he did throw, he didn’t do much. 3 of his completed passes were to running backs. It wasn’t a matter of receivers not being open either. The third quarter was a prime example. In an empty pocket that was blocked for well, Fields gave up on the route Equanimeous St. Brown ran when he was not immediately open, completely missing him wide open on the go-route they planned if he were to beat his defender. He panicked and checked it down. Missing open receivers happens in the NFL but Fields has been consistently doing it due to his inability to properly read routes and defense. It’s simply something he needs to be better at.
This past Sunday’s game against the Texans was arguably one of the worst of Field’s young career. Desperately in need of a bounce back performance, Fields was not able to deliver with much of anything. His final line was as follows:
8/17, 106 YDS, 6.2 AVG, 0 TD, 2 INTs, 19.4 QBR
The Bears did win this game, mostly due to an excellent performance by backup running back Khalil Herbert. Herbert outgained and out-attempted Fields 20/17 and 157/106. This was the second straight week the rushing attack was vastly more effective and efficient than Fields. While this is excellent for our offense, having a quarterback take a backseat role to the rushers is not the formula for sustaining long term success in the modern day NFL.
The overbearing sight of his performance this game was his lack of confidence. Fields looked hesitant and nervous almost all game. He second guessed many of his throws and held on to the ball for too long. On one occasion, Fields didn’t take his eyes off his initial read, and missed a wide open Equanimeous St. Brown who would have scored. Fields had 2 very ugly interceptions, one of them coming off just a blatant miss of a wide open Cole Kmet. The second pick actually came on what was Field’s most confident looking throw, where he slung it deep to Darnell Mooney, his first read. Although inaccurate, those are the kinds of throws Fields needs to make. He needs to be confident in his skills and show trust in his guys. In this game he continued to make the mistake of staying in the pocket too long. He took 5 sacks, the most of the season. In exception of his first down run on the first drive of the game, Fields did not attempt much to leave the pocket and try to make something of a broken play. One of the instances in which he tried, he waited too long and tripped over a lineman, taking a long sack and killing a drive. Fields needs to improve his confidence in himself. He will get better at reading defenses and having an internal clock of when to make a play his own with time, but this game was incredibly ugly and not one Fields will want to repeat.
It’s important to remember that Justin Fields is only 13 starts into his NFL career – we haven’t seen how good or bad of a quarterback he will be. He’s undergone the exact opposite of what a team should do with a young quarterback, with coaching staff changes, lack of readily available weapons, and new schemes slowing his development. Even with these things considered, Fields needs to be better. With a new front office running with the quarterback they did not pick, time is running out for Fields to prove he is the guy. He has all the intangibles needed to be a star quarterback, but has yet to prove himself. He will need to show considerable growth from now to December, and if he can do that, Chicago may have its franchise quarterback.