Is Justin Fields progressing with Chicago Bears?

Chicago Bears - Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Chicago Bears entered the season, all fans had the same idea. The record for the Bears in 2021 does not matter as much as the development of Justin Fields. Can he walk away from the 2021 season better than where he started?

While the Chicago Bears’ offense has been slow and run-heavy, they have focused on developing Fields in the pocket. They are not overusing his legs, and he is standing in the pocket and reading the defense, areas in which we knew he needed to progress. The Bears’ offense could be more fun in the short term by relying on what Fields does best, but letting him grow in areas where he is not best may be better for the long term.

With that in mind, it is worth wondering how we can track his progression. There is no perfect stat for NFL quarterbacks, with so much outside of their control. Still, EPA, success rate, and CPOE are three significant indicators of QB play.

EPA is expected points added, meaning what percentage of the score is a player responsible for. Players who create big plays have a high EPA. The success rate is about moving the stick and sustaining a stable offense. This is about efficiency, while CPOE is completion percent over expectation, which comes down to accuracy. So, big plays, efficiency, and accuracy can all be measured, and we can see if he is growing here.

Below we have charts of each, in the cumulative, so we see how his overall season is shaping out after each game. It is also worth noting that we added his Cincinnati game for his first game because he played so much that it gives us a nice baseline of play.

Justin Fields EPA

Below is a chart of how his EPA/play and unadjusted EPA/play has progressed throughout the season. As the season has gone, it would make sense that he would continue to add more expected points for his team. The chart does show growth.

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Of course, the big leap was after the Cleveland game and into the Lions game. Still, we have seen the progression in the past two weeks, albeit slower than the week 3 to 4 jump.

Justin Fields CPOE

He was woefully inaccurate against the Browns. Still, we once again saw him shoot right back, and from there, maintain a steady progression. His CPOE dipped to as low as -26.9 but is now at -8 after three straight games of pushing it up.

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His CPOE in the past three weeks is 9.2, -0.9, and -0.3. The past two weeks have not been great, but much better than the -8 his cumulative season sits at, and the Packers game showed more accuracy than the Raiders game.

Justin Fields Success Rate

Can Fields keep the chains moving? Once again, we see progress. A rate that dipped to 25.9% is now at 38.6% on the season. In the past three games, Fields has had success rates of 50, 46.4, and 46.2. Again, he peaked against the Lions, but the last two games have been much more promising.

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EPA + CPOE composite

Combining EPA and CPOE gives us a look at the combination of play-making and accuracy. When you have both, you are an elite quarterback.

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Here we can see that Fields has not quite hit the best rate he had against Cincy. Still, it was mainly because the Browns game crushed him down so far. Still, he has posted 1.9, 0.6, and 0.3 composite scores in his past three games. That is after his -1.7 against Cleveland.

Is Justin Fields progressing with Chicago Bears?

Overall, this is a small sample. Still, we have a low point against the Browns and a high point against the Lions. It is fair that the in-between is in-between, but overall, the past two games have shown slight progression, or at least a better baseline of what to expect moving forward. It will not be as bad as Cleveland or as good as Detroit, but Green Bay and Las Vegas are fair.