Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, and Justin Fields. This trio of quarterbacks are best known for their incredible running skills as well as their serviceable, if not outstanding, aerial skills. Jackson and Hurts have led their teams to great records while Fields has amassed great numbers and kept the Bears within shooting distance against teams like the contending Dolphins. But, in an increasingly pass-oriented NFL, how valuable is a great running and decent passing quarterback than a great pocket passing quarterback if at all?
To start off, I want to praise Justin Fields. The Ohio State product set a team and league game record rushing yards for a quarterback, amassing 178 rushing yards against the Miami Dolphins. In a battle, Fields and the Bears barely came up short against Tua’s Dolphins. Going back to this week, Fields continued his great form, destroying the Lions on the ground. But, what about Fields the passer? Against the Dolphins, with just 17 completions, Fields passed for a meager 123 yards. If not for the three touchdowns, he would’ve been frowned upon. Against one of the NFL’s worst defenses, Fields once again passed for an underwhelming 167 yards, albeit it was just off 12 of 20 pass attempts. So, what’s the issue?
Fields is the centerpiece in the league’s best running offense but this has just provided three wins. His passing numbers continue to stay low despite the improvement in his accuracy and vision. Is this the fault of Eberflus and Getsy for designing low numbers of pass plays? Is it the issue of a horrendous offensive line not giving Fields time? How about the receivers who barely get separation? Maybe all the above? I believe that the coaching staff isn’t giving Fields quality passing opportunities but the blame also falls on the offensive line and the receivers.
Jackson and Hurts have shown that running is a viable option but they have also developed into feared passers. FIelds the runner is great but for the Bears to be genuine contenders after this offseason, apart from retooling the rest of the roster, Fields needs to become a threat in the pass game. An offensive line piece or two would greatly help as would a true number one receiver in a player like USC’s Jordan Addison.
All in all, Fields the runner is dangerous. Fields, the double-edged sword, would take the Bears to the top. The threat of him to throw 30+ yard dimes and break away for long runs would terrorize defenses. With a viable defense, the Bears would become incredible and finally have a quarterback to rely on. The league is becoming more pass-oriented and for the Bears to truly be great, Fields will need to develop his passing game.