Thought No. 2: Justin Fields isn't the only player who must finish strong this season
A lot has been made about the return of Justin Fields this week and the importance of his future-whether it is with the Bears or another organization in the next seven games. Because he's the quarterback and the position this organization has never gotten it right, Fields will get all the attention and scrutiny. But he is not the only one who has to play well in the next seven games to make the fans and organization believe in them moving forward.
The first one is left tackle, Braxton Jones. He returned from a neck injury and was in rotation with Larry Borom against the Saints. Last week against the Carolina Panthers, he performed admirably in his second game.
Still, Jones must step up and prove he is the starting left tackle that the Bears can count on. He will face Aidan Hutchinson of the Detroit Lions twice, Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings, and Miles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns in the span of five weeks. That is a murder row of top pass rushers in the league he will face. He will not have a better opportunity to cement his status as the starting left tackle for the foreseeable future.
The other player who must prove himself is safety Jaquan Brisker. After missing the Saints game with a concussion scare, he returned on Thursday Night Football. However, he whiffed badly on a tackle and was beaten on a long pass as well. He did settle down the rest of the game, but for the next seven games, the Bears are probably praying he stays healthy and makes more impactful plays. With Eddie Jackson's tenure with the Bears probably coming to an end after this season, more should be expected from Brisker.
And finally, rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson is another player, who could use a strong finish to close out what has been a rough rookie season for him. Given that Jaylon Johnson is playing at a high level this year and rarely gets tested, the opponents will continue to attack Stevenson. He has been hit with a DPI at least once almost every game, which is worrisome even if some of the penalties are questionable.
At least he acknowledges his struggles and was very honest with himself, which is an encouraging sign for his development in an interview below.
With Amon-Ra St. Brown, Justin Jefferson possibly returning against the Bears after the Lions game, Amari Cooper, and Drake London still remaining on the schedule, he will have plenty of opportunities to show he can go toe to toe with some of the best receivers in the game. Even though he is a rookie, he could definitely finish strong for the fans to feel good about his draft selection and his development.