The Chicago Bears knew something was wrong when Justin Fields came up ailing after a hit along the sideline late against the Atlanta Falcons. He was nursing his left shoulder, having landed on it during a tackle. After the game, he was assisted to the locker room via a cart. Rarely a good sign. Matt Eberflus provided an update 24 hours later, stating Fields is “day-to-day” but didn’t rule out the possibility he could be done for the year. People were confused. Was this typical gamesmanship from the organization? No, as it turns out.
Ian Rapoport provided context. Fields had suffered a dislocation of his left shoulder. The reason Eberflus couldn’t provide a concise answer was that the severity of the injury wasn’t known. If it isn’t severe, the recovery time is typically 4-6 weeks. Mitch Trubisky returned after two with a similar injury in 2019. However, if it’s severe, then it will require surgery and 12-16 weeks to recover. Presuming the former, then the Bears’ course of action is obvious.
The bye week is three weeks away. They must sit Fields against the Jets and Packers, giving him almost a month to rest and recuperate. If the pain hasn’t died faded, then shut him down for the year. If it becomes manageable, he can return for the home game against Philadelphia.
Justin Fields’ future is what matters now.
The Bears are 3-8. Their season is all but over. Sacrificing their young quarterback for two largely meaningless games would be stupid football. Knowing Fields, he’ll probably push to play. That is the competitor he is. It shouldn’t matter. Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles have to be the big boys in the room. That young man’s health is what matters. If they throw him out there against the Jets’ top defense and aggravate the injury further, then it will go down as one of the most crippling decisions in Bears history. This isn’t about 2022. It has to be about 2023 and beyond.
It would be one thing if they had a supporting cast that could pick up the slack for him. They don’t. The offensive line continues to do a spot-on impression of Swiss cheese. His wide receivers remain light on playmakers as Chase Claypool plays catch-up with the system. Self-awareness is vital in situations like this. The Bears aren’t equipped to protect Justin Fields on the field. So they must be content protecting him by keeping him away from it.