Why the stats do not tell the whole story for Justin Fields

Chicago Bears (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bears, Justin Fields
Justin Fields – Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Bears rookie QB, Justin Fields, must improve in these key areas

The main area that Justin Fields must improve upon is ball control. Fields cannot continue to do everything himself. His ability to extend plays is something Chicago Bears fans should love to see. Mitch Trubisky had a similar ability, but that wasn’t enough for him to stick around past his rookie deal. He now is a backup in Buffalo instead of starting on an NFL roster. The ability to extend plays is not what guarantees a great quarterback, it is just one extra attribute.

Ball control is Fields’ biggest issue in my opinion. He needs to hold onto the football when taking a hit. He can be a little too careless with it while running, whether it was on a designed run or during a scramble. He leads the league with 12 fumbles on the season. It should be pointed out that he has only lost five of them. This is tied for the second-most in the NFL behind Jared Goff who has six. Dak Prescott is the quarterback Fields is tied with in this category.

No matter if Fields lost them or not, he has to take better care of the football. One reason he has had troubles in this area is the fact he’s holding onto the football a little too long. As Kevin Seifert pointed out, Justin Fields is averaging 2.87 seconds before throwing the ball. However, his average pocket time is 2.4 seconds.

This is a telling stat and shows us three things. One, it means he’s taking too long to dissect a play, or two, the play itself is taking too long to develop. As we all know (and Mitch Trubisky deserves apologies), Matt Nagy’s offense is very slow to develop and there is not enough time on most plays for the receiver’s routes to manifest.

These three issues lead to poor decisions such as sacks, throwaways and even worse, interceptions. No matter what, Fields has to start processing things faster, but I have no doubt in my mind that is something he will do. In fact, we have already started seeing it.

The thing is, even on Justin Fields’ interceptions, the decision-making has been correct more often than not. For example, two of his interceptions came on what he thought were “free plays”. One was an offsides penalty that wasn’t called versus the Green Bay Packers (shocker) and the other happened when he was told there were 12 men on the field.

On the year, Fields has seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but again context matters. As I just mentioned, two of those shouldn’t even be on his stat sheet. He also has had multiple interceptions happen after the ball bounced off his wide receiver’s hands. In reality, his stats should look more like seven touchdowns and only five interceptions. Now, we can’t just change his stats like this. His stats are his stats, but like all stats, QBR has its flaws.