The fourth quarterback selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, Justin Fields was considered by many to be one of the draft’s best prospects. After an illustrious career at Ohio State where he was a Heisman contender in 2019 following a season where he had 51 combined touchdowns and just three interceptions. Taken with the 11th overall pick, the Bears traded up to acquire him.
Since then, the Bears have struggled to provide him with stability. Much of this blame has been tossed at the former general manager and head coach. When Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy drafted Fields, it often felt as if they had no idea how to use him. This would be most evident in the game plans set by Nagy. Often lacking any designed runs that could put Fields mobility to use while also restraining his natural arm talent with conservative passing plays. All of this came after a pre-season in which they elected not to give him reps with the starters. Instead, they gave those valuable snaps to Andy Dalton.
Fortunately, the talent surrounding Fields on the field was capable. While still inexperienced, Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet are quality young players. Veteran Allen Robinson was there as well. Although not the player he once was, he could be a reliable security blanket for Fields. Instead, they gave Robinson only 66 targets, a massive drop from the 151 he saw in 2020.
Going In A Different Direction
At the conclusion of the 2021 season, both Nagy and Pace were fired by the Bears. Failing to meet expectations, the misuse of Fields likely factored into the decision as well. Soon after, Ryan Poles was named the new general manager. He would hire former Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as his head coach.
Looking across the league, the Bears are bucking an established trend. Traditionally, teams with young quarterbacks have been looking to offensive-minded head coaches to pair with young quarterbacks or vice versa. For example, Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury were paired together early in their careers. Similarly, Andy Reid was given Patrick Mahomes so he could use his offensive expertise and develop him.
For Justin Fields, he will be paired with a defensive head coach in Eberflus. Recently, the Bills’ Josh Allen was paired with former Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, so it is possible to have success. Two things to remember, however, first, Josh Allen is one of the rarest cases of quarterback development ever. Second, his offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, was one of the league’s best. All of this to say, the Bears will need to crush the offensive coordinator hire for Fields.
Their pick was former Packers passing game coordinator Luke Getsy. His first time as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, it is anyone’s guess how much involvement he had with play calling in Green Bay. With Matt Lafluer the play-caller, it is likely that Aaron Rodgers has a say as well. Under Eberflus, he will be the main man tasked with developing Fields.
Lots Of Work To Do
As far as the overall roster goes, the Bears have a lot of work to do. The number one receiver currently projects to be Mooney once again. After his first 1,000-yard season in 2021, Mooney is a quality player but he is more of a complimentary piece. Kmet returns as well but he is also more of a number two at this point. The number two receiver? Former Chiefs undrafted free agent Byron Pringle. Needless to say, the receiving core leaves a lot to be desired.
This, like many things involving the current Chicago Bears infrastructure, does absolutely nothing to help Fields become the star quarterback he is capable of being. Of course, they could still add some playmakers for him to utilize. Lacking a pick in the first round of April’s draft complicates matters, but they still have a high second-round pick that could allow them to add a receiver in a draft that is full of them. Even in free agency, they could add veterans like Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry, and Will Fuller.
Adding any of these players not only eases the burden on first-time coordinator Luke Getsy, but also on Fields. Many times in a young quarterback’s career, their struggles come from attempting to do too much. In the current state of the Bears’ offense, this is likely to happen. In fact, it was about the only thing that plagued him at Ohio State.
The Bears are in a pivotal moment in the history of their franchise. They possess a quarterback who is capable of changing everything. Much in the way that Josh Allen and Joe Burrow have changed their teams’ fortunes, Justin Fields can do the same. Unfortunately, the Bears do not appear to be taking his talents seriously.