Chicago Bears Justin Fields is Developing before our eyes

Chicago Bears: Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears: Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Through four regular-season games, Justin Fields has been everything we as Chicago Bears fans were promised when Ryan Pace and company decided to trade up for the Ohio State standout. We all know about the apparent freak of nature speed and size from the quarterback position; however, I would like to emphasize that Justin has shown growth in some areas of concern from his draft profile.

Justin Fields Proficiency in the “short game”

If you plan to be an NFL quarterback, you need to play the short game if you plan on lasting in the league. Comfortability in the short game has been something all but one rookie has lacked all year and has been their Achilles heel so far in their young careers. Throwing with anticipation has always been an area for rookie quarterbacks, but you can see it, especially in the 2021 class. This might have something to do with their collegiate schemes having tons of air raid concepts that banked on dominant offensive line play that would enable these QBs to unleash rockets downfield at will.

This does not work in the NFL unless you are Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, or even Aaron Rodgers due to a smaller skill gap. You see this especially with Zach Wilson and Justin Fields for their first few games when it feels like no one is open, and you end up taking a sack. Justin has shown the ability to throw receivers open during crucial turning points of the Lions and Raiders games.

Specifically on the hitch route across the middle to Darnell Mooney to keep the Bears on offense and on the window pass to Allen Robinson with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter. Since the Cleveland game has been much better at throwing receivers open and not waiting for them to get open, it could be a reason why the Bears haven’t been taking nearly as many sacks as of late.

Pass Protection Recognition

Pass Pro has always been not as much of a concern as it was a mystery for Justin during his collegiate days. NFL scouts were worried about his ability to call out extra blitzers and adjust the offensive line accordingly. In week five, we didn’t see any unblocked pass rushers or any number of advantages in the backfield that hurt the Bears, which should be a credit to Fields’ either pure football knowledge or film room work. Either way, week five showed great improvement for Fields and company, making adjustments when the play clock hits 15, and you can’t rely on your play-caller anymore.

Tiny Adjustments Since Preseason

The first-ever half of NFL football for Justin Fields was very underwhelming due to poor offensive line play, drops, and a fumble. People would like to blame the offensive line for the false starts in the preseason. Still, a likely outcome of those penalties could be attributed to Justin Fields predominantly using the clap to serve as a hard count in college.

Although we will never likely find out the true reason for why the Bears were extra jumpy under Justin in the preseason, it is fair to say that Justin being relatively new to the hard count could be an answer to our question. Since the preseason, Fields and his unit have been better at using the hard count, which shows growth in Justin’s development and work ethic. Justin also had a fumble in his preseason debut because he didn’t slide when he should’ve gotten down, and since then, Justin has been sliding ever since. This may be a minor critique of the young QB, but it should not be overlooked.

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If you have been a fan of the NFL for as long as I have, you would know that Robert Griffin III’s career was cut short because he couldn’t slide. Going into 2021, I was terrified that we could see another exceptional QB prospect have trouble with not sliding because I remember seeing that Justin took some big hits in college. But since the fumble, Justin has done a super good job of conserving his body and going down. Although I still think he has room to improve on fumbling, he tends to forget to keep two hands on the ball when climbing the pocket or escaping the pocket. I still have hope that he can iron that out.