In 2021, Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields threw for 1,870 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions on 58.9% completion and a 73.2 passer rating in 2021, which many refer to as disappointing. Calling any Quarterback a bust after their rookie season is undoubtedly jumping the gun with the exception of a few special cases (Johnny Manziel, Jamarcus Russell, etc.) Due to the emergence of young QBs finding success (Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow) modern NFL fans tend to be impatient with young Quarterbacks, which has led many fans to label the Bears’ franchise Quarterback a bust. There’s no arguing that Justin Fields did not live up to being the 11 overall selection in the 2021 draft,, but it’s ignorant to act like he didn’t show flashes of greatness. Justin Fields has shown that he has the talent to get it done at the highest level, the final question is: “Can he do it consistently?” Since no one should expect him to answer that question this season, I’m going to dissect a question that will be answered a little quicker. What is Justin Fields’ ceiling in 2022?
With Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor on the way out, the Chicago Bears brought in Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy. In his final year as the Bears’ head coach, Matt Nagy had lost his locker room, caused miscommunication on many offensive plays with many different Quarterbacks, and wouldn’t adjust his scheme for Fields. Bill Lazor at times was certainly an improvement over Matt Nagy as a play caller, but he still left a lot to be desired. Matt Eberflus will not be involved in the offense nearly as much as Nagy, as he was a defensive coordinator in Indianapolis, but he should still be able to aid Justin Fields’ progression as a quarterback. One of Justin Fields’ major flaws as a quarterback was something that many young players struggle with: reading a defense. Matt Eberflus may be able to help Fields understand defenses, more specifically to read when the defense is running a disguised look. The biggest difference between college and NFL defenses is that colleges run very minimal disguises while the NFL runs disguises nearly every play. If the connection between Fields and Eberflus is successful, Fields should see a major improvement in his ability to read the field. Luke Getsy was the former quarterback coach in Green Bay, which means he coached Aaron Rodgers. Or maybe Rodgers coached him. Either way, Getsy getting to spend the amount of time with the most talented quarterback in NFL history can’t be a bad thing. Getsy will certainly help Fields fix some of his mechanical issues such as moving around the pocket and scanning the field. The most important thing for Getsy to fix in the Bears’ offense is the play calling. Play calling was by far the biggest problem in the Bears’ offense the last few years, hopefully, Getsy picked up a couple of pointers from Matt Lafluer in Green Bay.
The other changes made for Fields in the offseason have been who will actually be on the field. New General Manager Ryan Poles took a very passive approach to his first offseason in his new position. This may very well turn into long-term success for the Bears but unfortunately has set up Fields with a subpar offense at best. Fields’ weapons next year will be Darnell Mooney, Velus Jones, Byron Pringle, Khalil Herbert, David Montgomery, and Cole Kmet. Herbert and Montgomery are a very solid RB duo but they won’t be much to Fields other than a safety valve. Kmet fills a similar role but he has much more to prove than David Montgomery. Like many other Bears fans, I absolutely love Mooney but he’s not quite at the point of a good wide receiver one, he’s a fantastic wide receiver two but won’t elevate Fields as much as other wideouts can elevate their quarterback. Jones and Pringle are both very quick but both lack good jump ball ability. The Bears’ offensive line also saw little to no improvement this year. The line will consist of Cody Whitehair, 2nd year tackles Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom, Sam Mustipher, and Willie Wright. All of these guys have something to prove, even Whitehair who is the most reliable starter on the line.
Now that all the pieces have been laid out, how well will Justin Fields be able to complete the puzzle? As discussed earlier, the new coaching staff will allow Fields to improve at a significant level both mechanically and mentally. But how well will the other players on the field enable him to put these improvements to good use? Fields can make a massive jump individually but I think that his ceiling will be lowered by his lack of help. If everything goes well, I could see Fields finishing the season with around 3500 yards, 25 TDs, and 12 INTs. Again, this is his ceiling in my opinion, and this ceiling is this low because his only capable weapon is Darnell Mooney. It’s not easy to make things work perfectly with only one reliable pass catcher. If Fields reaches this ceiling, then the Bears will finish in the realm of 7-9 wins.
The stats I’ve provided don’t reflect how good I think Fields can be individually this year. He can look like a borderline top 10 quarterback if everything goes his way but only reflect top 20 quarterback stats. The Bears won’t be very good this year, but it’ll be fun to see what happens with Fields and how he progresses.