Chicago Bears vs. Interesting dilemma at point guard this off season. You may have heard of it.
With the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, general manager Ryan Poles is in an ideal position to start over. The Bears can first choose from what is widely considered an impressive quarterback class. USC’s Caleb Williams currently the consensus best bet.
But the Poles could also swap the election for a seminal comeback and then continue building. incumbent starter Justin Fields. Staying the course will present some complications due to Fields’ contract situation. By May 2, the Bears have to decide whether to exercise the fifth-year option on his rookie deal; This will fully guarantee his salary in 2025 – estimated to be around $22 million. overthecap.com.
From there, Bears brass will also need to discuss how much more they want to invest in Fields’ future through a possible extension.
When assessing Fields’ value and long-term potential, the Bears first need to solidify their evaluations for the 2023 season; it’s a bumpy ride that includes a few flashes of brilliance, frustrating inconsistencies, and a month-long absence due to a sore thumb. hurt
So how much has Fields grown? Where were their most notable developments? So which problem areas still exist?
Pre-season Tribune set modest and realistic statistical targets Here’s a checklist for Fields in Season 3 to help measure his progress at the end of the season. The goals weren’t to set the bar at the MVP level, but to establish checkpoints where Fields would need to hit seven major categories to convince the Bears’ decision-makers that he had risen to the championship level.
Here’s a look at the goals we set, how Fields is performing, and how it’s checked against our grading system.
- E: We exceeded expectations
- ME: I met the expectations
- NI: Needs improvement
- F: I could not meet expectations
Goals: 3,200 yards, seven plays of at least 225 yards and three plays of 300-plus yards
2023 totals: 2,562 yards, three plays of at least 225 yards and one play of 300-plus yards
Comment: After that swear in summer Fields, the first Bears quarterback to reach 4,000 passing yards in a season, did not surpass 2,000 passing yards until Christmas Eve. He averaged 197 passing yards per start, bringing his career average to 174.
Fields’ below-average performance over three seasons has given many around the league pause about his ability to be a top-tier NFL quarterback down the road. For those looking to make comparisons to Baltimore Ravens star Lamar Jackson? Jackson averaged 32 more passes per start during his career.
Fields threw for 231 yards in the first half Week 4 game against Denver Broncos With the loss, he moves towards a career-high .335. The following week he Washington set his Commanders on fire He passed for 282 passing yards and four touchdowns in both games. It was the highlight of his season, and the Broncos game remains the only 300-yard effort of his career.
Fields has averaged just 194 passing yards in his last seven starts. He remained below 200 in 25 of the 40 matches he started his career. And he has scored more than one goal in just two of his 13 matches this season.
Goals: 2.2% interception rate, 10 or fewer tackles and eight or fewer tackles
2023 totals: 2.4% tackle rate, nine tackles and 10 fumbles
Comment: Fields had the best season of his career in terms of interception rate, and after dislocating his right thumb in Week 11, he threw only one non-Hail Mary interception in 206 attempts. Bears coaches emphasized the importance of ball security, and Fields responded with undeniable improvement. His interception rate ranked 23rd in the NFL; Houston Texans rookie CJ Stroud led the league with 1.0%.
Fields’ long absence His interception and turnover totals must be taken into account, as targets are set in the hope that he will start 15 or more games. However, overall he has gotten better at protecting the football and showing awareness. The 19 turnovers in the fourth quarter of his career are still problematic. Nine of those have come this season, with three returning for goals.
Aim: 15 starts
2023 total: 13 starts
Comment: Durability must also be factored into the Bears’ overall evaluation, as Fields has missed 11 starts in his career due to five injuries (ribs, ankle, shoulder, hip, thumb) plus an illness. Fields has just 10 wins as a starter since entering the league, meaning he’s more likely to miss a game than win one over three seasons.
Fields has been on the right side of that equation this season, with at least five wins and four missed starts. Yet its presence remains a cause for concern.
Goals: Less than 40 sacks and a sack rate of 8% or less
2023 totals: 44 sacks and 10.6% sack rate
Comment: Fields has made significant progress in this area, dropping to an 8.7% sack rate over his last seven starts. Still, his season-long rate ranked 31st in the league, ahead of Zach Wilson of the New York Jets (11.1%) and Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans (12.2%).
In the four games Fields missed, Undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent He had a sack rate of 3.4%, a notable comparison considering he was playing in the same offense with the same supporting cast. Fields’ 12.4% sack rate over the last three seasons is significantly lower than the other six Bears quarterbacks (6.0%) playing in that span.
Goals: 45 explosive completions (20-plus yards) and seven TD passes from outside the red zone
2023 totals: 45 explosive completions and eight TD passes from outside the red zone.
Comment: Fields’ longest pass this season was a stunning 58-yard strike to DJ Moore on the Bears’ opening drive, which turned into a third down. We beat the commanders 40-20 In October. His longest touchdown pass was 56 yards to Moore later that game.
Of Fields’ 45 completions of 20 yards or longer, 24 went to Moore, including five touchdowns. This underscores the value of a big-time quarterback and lends credibility to the argument that Fields’ production will increase with the addition of more weapons around him.
Goals: Two game-winning drives, 82.0 passer rating in the fourth quarter and 5.8 team average in the fourth quarter
2023 totals: One game-winning drive, 53.4 fourth quarter passing rating and 6.1 team average in the fourth quarter
Classes: NI (drivers), F (passing score), ME (points)
Comment: Fields overcomes Bears’ two fourth-quarter fumbles 12th week match in Minnesota Leading the game-winning field goal drive in the final 2:29 of a 12-10 victory. While his 36-yard dart to Moore set up Cairo Santos’ winning kick, Moore’s 16-yard completion on the first play of that drive might have been more impressive.
Yet, in the eight drives Fields started with a chance to tie or take the lead in the final eight minutes of the game, the Bears scored only once. He is now 3-for-23 in such situations throughout his career. Heartbreaking losses pirates, broncos, Lions And browns It included notable late opportunities missed by the scrum.
Our goal for passer rating was to rank 19th out of 40 quarterbacks in the NFL with at least 50 fourth quarter attempts. Instead, Fields ranked 39th, ahead of the New England Patriots’ Bailey Zappe (36.4). His six interceptions in the fourth quarter were surpassed only by the Commanders’ Sam Howell, who had seven more in 76 attempts. Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love also threw six interceptions in the fourth quarter but had 81 more attempts.
On a more positive note, the Bears scored in the fourth quarter in six of the 12 games Fields finished. They had their best 13-point fourth quarter of the season to secure the Week 5 victory over the Commanders.
Direction, juice, momentum
Goals: 625 rushing yards and seven victories
2023 totals: 657 rushing yards and five victories
Classes: ME (rusher), NI (victories)
Comment: Fields finished the season right where we thought he would be as a runner. No one expected its repeat explosive rushing total of 1,143 yards Part of that was due to defenses being adjusted to account for his running ability. But a larger part of that can be attributed to Fields’ increased patience as a long-time pass rusher, resisting the urge to tackle at the first sign of pressure.
Bears coaches emphasized Fields’ tackle-throwing performance as an encouraging sign for his development. Of course, explosive runs are still a big part of what makes him special and need to remain in his repertoire.
The Bears managed to climb from the NFL cellar to the middle stage in 2023, with Fields posting a 5-8 record as the starter, including four wins in five games from late November through late December.
It was a step in the right direction and provided belief to those who believe the Bears will continue to win in 2024 and beyond if they stick with Fields and invest in bringing out his best.