In a perfect world, Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields would have hit the ground running to open the 2023 season. Through two games, however, that has been far from the case. Fields and the Bears have gotten off to a rocky start, and fans are quickly losing hope in the team and their quarterback.
The Chicago Bears are 0-2 and have lost both games by double-digits. The team is now preparing to take on reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday in a game where they are heavy underdogs.
Fields’ play is far from the only issue. The defense is a disaster, the offensive line has been hit with a barrage of injuries, and the play-calling on both sides of the ball has been very questionable.
But with great power comes great responsibility. Part of playing the most important position in the sport is always being the center of attention. Win, lose, or draw, fans and the media alike can’t help but discuss the quarterback.
Even if it isn’t entirely fair to blame Fields for everything that has gone wrong for Chicago to open the year, it’s hard to deny that he’s somewhat culpable. He hasn’t looked like a franchise quarterback, and the way things are trending, his future in Chicago looks as murky as ever.
Fields has always been a fascinating study. A player with immense physical talent who doesn’t always know how to use it. This tool conundrum has made Fields a controversial player in NFL circles. Some fans have become enamored with Fields’ upside, whereas skeptics have cited his on-field performance as reason for doubt.
What’s added to the mystery of Fields is his constantly evolving play style. For over two seasons, he has bordered on multiple extremes and struggled to find a middle ground.
When he was in college, he didn’t use his rushing ability nearly enough. This trend continued into the early stages of his time in Chicago. In the middle of last season, however, Fields started to tap into his potential as a runner. By the end of the year, Fields was more of a runner than a passer.
Are the Chicago Bears over-coaching Justin Fields?
What was once an untapped area of the young quarterback’s game quickly became overused, and many fans were hopeful Fields would scale back the rushing and take fewer hits. Two weeks into the 2023 season, Fields is back at square one. He’s getting fewer designed runs and is hesitant to scramble, and the Chicago Bears are losing what was their most valuable source of offense a year ago.
The same thing can be seen with Fields as a passer. In Week 1 against the Packers, Fields was too willing to hit the check down and missed open receivers downfield. The following week against Tampa Bay it was the opposite; Fields had no sense of urgency and took multiple avoidable sacks.
It’s almost like Fields is a chameleon. How he decides to play is entirely determined by what he was criticized for doing the previous week. This usually results in an overcorrection and throws off the rhythm of the offense.
What’s been made abundantly clear with Fields is that he has trouble turning the switch on and off as the game progresses. One week, all Fields wants to do is run, the next, he doesn’t want to run at all. One week, he only wants to throw it deep, the next, he’s gun shy. Ideally, the quarterback makes decisions on a play-by-play basis, but Fields will often stick with the game plan to a fault.
One of the frustrating parts of the Chicago Bears offensive game plan the first two weeks is that the coaching staff has tried to make Fields something he is not. He isn’t meant to be a high-volume passer, nor is he meant to sit in the pocket.
This could have been what Fields was referring to when he mentioned coaching as a possible explanation for his struggles on Wednesday. Although he walked the comment back shortly after, it’s hard to imagine Fields would’ve made such a suggestion had he not felt it to be true.
This is where it is fair to question if the coaching staff is overstepping. It’s easy to understand why they want Fields to be a more conventional quarterback, but in doing so, they aren’t allowing him to do the very things he does well.
If Fields is going to crash and burn, the coaching staff should at least let him do it playing the way he wants to. The ongoing attempt to fit a square peg in a round hole just isn’t working and is looking worse and worse by the day.