- Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields is searching for answers after a rough start
- Fields committed five turnovers in an ugly 38-3 loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7
- The Bears deserve part of the blame after setting the Ohio State product up for failure
Chicago Bears fans desperately wanted to see rookie quarterback Justin Fields take the field (ugh) by any means necessary. The fans, as always, believed they were in the right, and embattled head coach Matt Nagy was in the wrong.
Well, every action has a reaction. Fields continued an inconsistent start to his NFL career by committing five total turnovers, including three interceptions, in a blowout loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7.
Now, Fields is, by his own admission, lost and not sure how to feel, and the Bears have no one but themselves to blame.
Justin Fields expressed his frustration and shame after a Week 7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In Fields’ two seasons at Ohio State, the Buckeyes went 20-2 and outscored opponents 984-398 in the process. Life in the NFL is a far different animal, and not only because Spartans and Scarlet Knights have been replaced with Lions and Rams.
Although Fields completed a career-high 68.8% of his passes in Week 7, he threw no touchdowns and three interceptions in a 38-3 loss. He also fumbled three times, losing two, in his first (and potentially only) matchup with Brady, who threw his 600th touchdown in the rout.
For the first time in a long time, Fields isn’t sure where to go next. According to NBC Sports, he walked to the postgame press conference still in uniform (players usually shower and change into either a suit or something more comfortable) and admitted he’s at a loss for words.
“I don’t know how to feel,” Fields said. “My only reaction to this is just to keep working.”
Fields, who turned the ball over eight times in his first seven games, said he’s not angry with the Bears after their second straight loss.
“At the end of the day, it happened. We have bad days. Y’all have bad days. And y’all can either get depressed. Or y’all can get up the next day and go to work. And I think that’s what our team is going to do. And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not angry at all. You know, just, s— happens.”Justin Fields
Nagy said he’s confident that Fields can “handle” whatever the NFL throws at him.
“Every rep he gets and every defensive play he sees on the other side of the ball, he’s gonna use that to make him better,” Nagy told reporters.
The Bears have set Fields up for failure for months
The vast majority of professional sports games, and we’re talking 99.9%, don’t come down to one play or even a single player. Fields’ five turnovers certainly didn’t help the Bears stay in the game, but he’s not solely responsible for the loss.
The Bears positioned Fields for failure from the time they drafted him. Rather than commit to using this year as a redshirt year or simply name him the starter the way the New York Jets did with Zach Wilson, Nagy spent the summer insisting free-agent acquisition Andy Dalton would start in Week 1.
Dalton went down with an injury in Week 2, and Fields took over the starting job. Fine. He inherited a Bears team with a leaky offensive line, one that let its quarterback get sacked a league-high 22 times in six games. Instead of trying to add younger linemen either through free agency, trades, or the draft, the Bears settled for 39-year-old Jason Peters.
Peters might be a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, but consider that he played his first NFL game when Fields was 5 years old.
Part of why Fields excelled at Ohio State is because Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day unleashed the Georgia transfer as a legitimate dual-threat quarterback. He knew how to beat teams with his legs without needing to play like Cam Newton or Lamar Jackson.
Through his first seven games, Fields had 34 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown. Why the Bears haven’t allowed the rookie to try carrying the ball on more read-option plays is beyond us.
If that’s not bad enough, Fields admitted he didn’t know until he arrived at Raymond James Stadium that the Bears intended to start Lachavious Simmons at right tackle. Chicago placed starting RT Elijah Wilkinson on the COVID-19 list before kickoff.
How did that go? Chicago benched Simmons in the second quarter and had Alex Bars, who had only played 30 offensive snaps through the season’s first six weeks, finish the game.
Fields and the Bears need to get things turned around fast
At 3-4, the Bears are still alive in the NFC postseason race. The league’s decision to add a third Wild-Card Game last year allows for more, shall we say, mediocre teams, to reach the playoffs.
Fields said he’s not going to let the poor Week 7 performance stop him and the Bears. He should hope he lives up to that promise. Chicago hosts an inconsistent and injury-ravaged San Francisco 49ers team in Week 8 before traveling to Pittsburgh for a road showdown with Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers on Monday, Nov. 8.
The Bears stand a far better chance at winning both games if Nagy does whatever it takes to help Fields succeed, whether that’s unleashing him as a runner or revamping the offensive line. Otherwise, the Ohio State product will finally know what he’s feeling: pain.