The Chicago Bears quarterback situation of the future just got all the more complicated in the Bears' six-point loss to the Minnesota Vikings at home. Justin Fields who was coming off back-to-back red-hot performances, not only struggled but got injured in the losing contest where he was forced to exit the game in the third quarter. The only thing that was clear during the game was that the Bears QB situation won’t be solved by UDFA rookie Tyson Bagent, for those who were holding out hope that the Division Two QB was a hidden gem.
I don’t think there has been enough evidence to prove Justin Fields is not the franchise guy or to prove that he is the franchise guy, either way. This season was supposed to give us those answers as Fields has been surrounded by the best supporting cast of his career in 2023. Adding DJ Moore and improving the offensive line to roughly league average was supposed to be the thing to give us our answer if Fields would be ‘the guy’.
However, despite a clear improvement as a passer, Fields ranks tied for third in the NFL in touchdown passes and 13th in the NFL in passing yards. The decision to keep Fields may or not be completely in his hands, the Bears are currently slotted in to pick not only first in the NFL draft, but also second, for the third straight week. Caleb Williams, QB, USC is coming off the worst game in his college career by a landslide but has been deemed ‘generational’ by some, and Drake Maye, QB, UNC has also played to the level as Williams and cemented himself as a top two QB of the draft at the bare minimum.
The choice to move on from Justin Fields seems like it may not be indicative of Fields’ play but more of a reflection that the 2024 draft class features arguably the best 1-2 punch of quarterbacks since Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Not only is the draft class for quarterbacks very good at the top, but the odds of a quarterback surviving 2 head-coaching changes in three years are very low.
The point is that Justin Fields not only needs to play well but he needs to be able to prove beyond a doubt that he is the franchise quarterback for the Bears. “Good quarterbacking” is not gonna cut it if the Bears have two of the top two picks, he needs to be great and borderline exceptional, or else the Bears are gonna be in a very tough spot. And of course, he won’t get to prove his worth until he recovers from the injury on his thumb, which makes the situation even more tough.
Is it fair? Not at all. Mitch Trubisky was horrific in his last two years as a Bear yet he got four years to prove himself and a great supporting cast. But it’s just the reality of the situation that Fields needs to clear a very high bar in order to keep his starting job. Just a very tough situation.