After a highly-productive two seasons at Ohio State, Justin Fields entered the NFL with high expectations. Unfortunately for him, he walked into a Chicago Bears locker room with no identity. As a result, it’s been an up-and-down 2021 season for the rookie. Former NFL star Michael Vick offered up some words of wisdom to help Fields despite the rocky start.
Justin Fields’ rookie season has been a roller coaster
When the Chicago Bears selected Justin Fields with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, it was hard to gauge how he’d fare.
Fields has all the talent in the world, but he needed to go to the right team to have early success. Chicago hasn’t seemed like that place in year one.
Head coach Matt Nagy severely botched the team’s handling of Fields early on. He entertained the idea of a quarterback competition between the rookie and veteran Andy Dalton. Nagy ultimately named the Red Rifle the starter. Dalton’s injury in Week 2 forced Fields into action.
Watching Fields play, he’s shown flashes of what he brings to the table. However, he never really stood a chance in this Bears’ offense. Nagy’s play-calling (and overall ability to lead a team) came under fire.
Chicago’s offensive line also hasn’t done the rookie any favors, either. Opposing defenses have sacked him a league-high 31 times in 2021.
Fields’ best performance of the season came against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football, but the bright spots have been few and far between for the Bears.
The 22-year-old is now on the mend with a rib injury.
Michael Vick has some advice for the Bears quarterback
Many of the successful young quarterbacks in the NFL have sought out mentors who can provide insight on navigating the transition from college to the pros.
Michael Vick has been chopping it up with Justin Fields to help him reach his full potential as an NFL quarterback. The former Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles star knows a thing or two about being a young dual-threat in the league.
Vick recently joined The Rich Eisen Show and revealed some of his advice to the Chicago Bears’ rookie signal-caller.
“I spoke to Justin, and I told him this is a learning opportunity,” said Vick. “This is year one. Expectations are high, and people want to see promise. That’s fair to the Bears fans. But year two is going to be the year, and you gotta grow. You have to put all your skills on display, and people will want to see what Justin Fields is really all about.”
Vick added that Fields understands the task at hand, even though it’s been challenging at times during his first season in the Windy City.
“I try to help him understand the game from that perspective,” said the 4-time Pro Bowler. “You do get that trial run in year one. You need the right supporting cast, and that’s not the case in Chicago right now. He knows what’s at stake. He knows his position and how he has to produce.”
Quarterback is the most criticized position in football, but the Bears need to put a better team around Justin Fields.
Chicago needs to put Fields in a better position to succeed
The Chicago Bears are 4-7 for a reason, and it’s not because of Justin Fields.
Injuries, poor play-calling, and a lack of overall talent have plagued this football team throughout the 2021 NFL season. The Bears’ front office will undoubtedly have its work cut out to turn this thing around for 2022 and beyond.
Drafting Fields was the first step in the rebuilding process. Next up on the docket will likely be the head coaching position. Matt Nagy survived Thanksgiving despite rumors swirling that he could be gone after the Week 12 game against the Detroit Lions. However, his future with the team is still in so much doubt.
It’s unlikely that Chicago brings Nagy back for another run. He’s routinely shown ineptitude as the Bears’ head man, especially with how he handled the quarterback controversy.
A fresh face could be exactly what the Ohio State product needs to find some success in the NFL. The front office must be selective of who they pick to take over the reins, though. This franchise has long been looking for a franchise quarterback. Fields possesses the tools to be just that, but he needs more help.
Bolstering the offensive line must be a high priority for the Bears in the offseason. The team must protect its investment and not let the talent go to waste.
It would be a travesty to see the Bears completely ruin the Justin Fields era in Chicago.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.