The Chicago Bears need to let Justin Fields loose
William's resignation was one of the bigger items to come out of Halas Hall this past week, perhaps rivaled only in attention by Fields' comments on his play going forward. Opening his Wednesday press conference by saying that he felt he was "robotic" and "not playing like [him]self". On the topic of overthinking his play and failing to get into a rhythm, Fields mentioned coaching as a potential reason for this, although the quote has since been taken out of context and manifested into a national storyline. Later that day, Fields made a point to regather the media and explain his comments and has since shown that there is no tension between him and the staff.
Despite the backlash and the misreporting that came from his comments, on the whole, Fields seems to be correct. Compared to the latter half of last season, Fields has been asked to play a different brand of football, and in the early parts of the year, it has not led to a lot of success. However, their matchup against Kansas City provides the Bears an interesting opportunity to help Fields return to his style of play.
Defensively, the Chiefs are not a stingy unit in terms of turnovers (mentioned above), and despite being top-five in points allowed, they allow nearly 320 yards per game and roughly 100 rushing yards per game on average. Generally, good offensive teams allow fewer rushing yards as their opponent is forced to pass the ball in order to catch up on the scoreboard, but in two games, the Chiefs have shown some weaknesses on defense, especially against the run.
Sunday might provide a good opportunity to incorporate more playmaking in Fields' role, especially on the ground. Letting him completely revert to his play near the end of last season may not be productive in the long term, but allowing him to mix into the rushing attack may increase his confidence and comfortability early in the year. Fields has looked solid at times as a passer, including a strong showing until the penultimate possession a week ago, but to return to a true difference-maker in this offense, it is important to remind defenses how punishing he can be if he gets rolling on the ground. If defenses were required to give more attention to Fields on the ground, stacked boxes and potential blitzes could open up more downfield possibilities for the quarterback in the passing game.
Even if the Chiefs came out swinging, a dynamic showing by Fields may be enough to at least keep the game close down the stretch and would potentially get the ball rolling for his 2023 campaign. In this pivotal third professional season, Fields has struggled to develop alongside an increase in talent around him, but allowing him to incorporate the rushing attack into his toolkit could help unlock his full potential.