The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

Halfway Through the Season, What’s Next for Justin Fields and the Bears?

After a slow start to the 2023 season, questions are being asked about the future of the team—and their franchise quarterback.
A+Bears+fan+in+Chicago.
Brock Wegner
A Bears fan in Chicago.

Chicago Bears fans had a lot to be excited about going into 2023. The front office had made some promising offseason moves, and the stage was set for Justin Fields to finally propel the Bears into success after years of failure.

In typical Bears fashion, the 2023 season got off to an abysmal start. Nobody expected a perfect start, but at the same time, nobody expected just two wins from their first nine. Murmurs of tanking began, and as with most underperforming teams, the quarterback shouldered the majority of the blame.

Unfortunately for Fields, much of the criticism has been warranted. Despite being one of the most exciting players in football whenever he’s on the field, Fields has looked completely lost at times this season. Instead of seeing the Jalen Hurts-eque year-three breakout many felt was on the cards for Fields, it’s been a season riddled with injuries, turnovers, and overall bad quarterback play.

Not exactly ideal for a franchise cornerstone.

However, the Bears’ biggest problem this season has been their usage of Fields. Despite belonging in the Lamar Jackson and Michael Vick bracket of quarterback athleticism, Matt Eburflus and the Bears coaching staff seem insistent on restricting him to the role of pocket passer. After watching Fields rush for over 1000 yards in 2022, the Bears have inexplicably reduced his designed runs per game and increased his passing attempts dramatically.

Justin Fields has never been an elite passer, even going back to his Ohio State days. This sudden insistence on forcing him into a role he is not equipped for is puzzling. The Bears have been blessed with a generational athlete, so treat him like one. If you have the fastest racehorse in the world, you don’t teach it how to juggle. You let it run.

Just look at the Baltimore Ravens. Only recently has Lamar Jackson become a competent passer, let alone a good one. The Ravens built their offense around Jackson’s mobility, treating him as a runner first and foremost, not a passer. Eventually, once Jackson had gained years of NFL experience, he was able to develop his passing game to where it is now. The “Lamar is a running back” agenda has blinded football fans from the fact that Jackson is an elite football player and the Ravens are an elite football team. Had the Ravens not treated the best runner in the history of the position as a running back, they probably wouldn’t have had much success.

When I see Justin Fields, I see everything that could have gone wrong with Lamar Jackson. I see an electric football player who is being forced to be Tom Brady. I see a promising career being stunted by an irrational belief that the only way to win in the NFL is by passing for 300 yards every game.

That isn’t to say a team with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, or Joe Burrow isn’t more likely to win games. They each possess a certain skill set that historically, has led to success in the NFL. If Fields could replicate Mahomes’ production, that would be great. Unfortunately, not everyone can be Patrick Mahomes. 

What the Bears don’t seem to understand is that not everyone can be Justin Fields. Just because Tom Brady didn’t run a 4.45 doesn’t mean you can’t win with someone who can. The NFL is changing. There isn’t one way to win a football game, and it’s time the Bears started to embrace that.

Justin Fields may never become the player he has the potential to be. He may never be able to shake the uneasiness he displays in the pocket and he may never be able to help the Chicago Bears win football games. Until the Bears let Justin Fields be Justin Fields, we will never know for sure. 

The Bears have nothing to lose for the rest of the season. They aren’t good enough to make the playoffs and they will almost certainly have a top pick in the draft, whether it is theirs or Carolina’s. If the Bears want more clarity surrounding their franchise cornerstone, let him loose. Let Fields build confidence through doing what he does best. Chances are, if Fields can regain his success on the ground, things will start clicking for him in the way they did for Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts. And if they don’t, there’s always that quarterback at USC who they say is pretty good.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Chicago Maroon
$5513
$7000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation makes the work of student journalists of University of Chicago possible and allows us to continue serving the UChicago and Hyde Park community.

More to Discover
Donate to Chicago Maroon
$5513
$7000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Chicago Maroon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *