A win is a win, but it really doesn’t feel like it. The Bears beat the Texans 23-20 with help from Khalil Herbert’s 157 yards and two touchdowns. The defense had a great outing, forcing three fumbles and intercepting Davis Mills twice. The run defense was shaky, but they held up. However, the focus point was Justin Fields. He was 8/17 passing with two interceptions and five sacks. He also ran the ball eight times for 47 yards. Both interceptions were overthrown and looked pretty ugly. He looked bad on Sunday, and his poor play led to the Bears being in a close game with the Texans. Fields looked lost and confused as in the previous two weeks, seemingly not trusting himself to throw the ball. I won’t defend Fields for his play this Sunday, but the fans giving up on him already need to relax and give him a little leeway. There is a lot that goes into a quarterback’s development and it takes time. A lot more than just 14 games.
First of all, Fields has started 13 games in two seasons. He played in 12 in 2021, starting in 10 and missing five due to injury. A full NFL season has 17 games. He hasn’t even completed a full season over two years. Being good at the most challenging position in football, and maybe in all sports, doesn’t happen overnight. Some quarterbacks looked very good early in their careers, like Justin Herbert. On the other hand, almost every good quarterback has had rocky starts to their careers. Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions in his first season. It also took him two seasons to surpass 30 touchdowns. Josh Allen is another example. He had 12 interceptions in his first 12 games. It was his third season when he broke out, after 27 starts in the NFL. There is no evidence to show that Fields will become a Peyton Manning or a Josh Allen. But there is plenty of evidence to show that he needs more than 13 starts to develop into a good QB.
Fields is also in a new offense, with minimal weapons and an inexperienced offensive line. A first-time offensive coordinator calls the plays, and a first-time head coach leads the team. Giving up on a young QB in these conditions after just three starts is a lapse in judgment. There are certainly things he needs to work on, and many mistakes he has made have been more his fault than anyone else. He knows this; he said to reports after the Bears win, “I just played like trash. Played terrible. Really, just have to be better.” He needs to practice, but more importantly, natural experience.
The Bears had a fresh set of downs, over a minute, and three time-outs at the end of the second half. Matt Eberflus, however, decided not to use any and let the clock run out while the Bears were down 14-13. You take advantage of those situations to let your young quarterback get that experience. The best way to develop is to get the in-game experience and learn from it. Those types of plays are impossible to replicate in practice. Giving Fields the ball and letting him try to get some points is the best way to judge what he is.
All in all, Justin Fields just needs some time. Putting him in an entirely new offensive system and expecting greatness is plain idiotic. So is labeling him a bust or calling for a change in coaching. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and let the season play out. There is a reason rookie contracts are four years long; the young men need time to develop. Justin Fields is no exception. There are 14 games yet to be played this season and 17 in the next. The earliest I will judge Justin Fields will be after those first 14 games. Even then, there are 17 games after that to let Fields show that he is fit for a starting job. Three games in a rebuilding season is far too early to judge Fields, and the fans need to understand that. Let him play and show that he can belong in the NFL.
Another part of quarterback development is developing the team around him. The Bears have already started this, and it’s been working through the first three games of the season. The Bears are 2-1 and a large part of their wins has been the run game and the defense. Even in their one loss, they had 180 total rushing yards. They also held the Packers to three points in the second half. Developing the defense is the easy part for the Bears; they have a defensive-minded head coach and have had good defenses year after year. The run game has been good since David Montgomery broke out in 2020, and Khalil Herbert has picked up the slack when Monty is out. With such a good run game and a good defense, Justin Fields will start to improve in no time. Run plays turn into play-action and RPO’s, which are areas Fields shines. With the team looking well-rounded in those areas, the passing game just needs a little time. As I said before, a reasonable expectation is Field’s third season. This is where many quarterbacks see an increase in production, as well as being more comfortable in their role and offense. My overall point in this article is just give the guy some time. The team is improving in every aspect, and the passing-game won’t be far behind. Let the coaching staff work out the kinks and go throughout the growing pains. Fields will figure it out, and when he does, the Bears will look very scary.