Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Justin Fields Broke An NFL Record Nobody Wants To See


With how rough the entire Chicago Bears 2022 season was, it became easy to overlook the smaller details. When focusing on Justin Fields, most people discussed his progress. He became one of the most feared running quarterbacks in the entire NFL, falling only 63 yards short of Lamar Jackson’s single-season record. He also improved his efficiency as a passer, going from a 73.2 rating to an 85.2. This was done despite playing in a new offensive scheme with limited weapons around him. Yet the true story of this season was about his protection.

People were concerned about the offensive line even before the year began. The Bears were starting a rookie at left tackle (Braxton Jones), a tackle at guard (Teven Jenkins), and a backup at center (Sam Mustipher). Since then, things only got worse as injuries ravaged the unit most of the season. Unsurprisingly, this led to frequent struggles whenever they were asked to pass protect without help. Fields ended up being the one to pay the price. It got so bad that, according to Reverse Fantasy Football, it broke a dubious NFL record.

Justin Fields won’t survive at this rate.

He has now been sacked 91 times in 27 career games. That is really, really bad. It doesn’t even account for the extra hits he takes, both in the pocket and on quarterback runs. He isn’t even 24 years old and has already accumulated enough contact for somebody approaching his 30th birthday. If the Bears want to turn him into the franchise quarterback he can be, this trend has to stop. They must do everything possible to upgrade and solidify the offensive line this off-season. Otherwise, they might be looking for a new quarterback soon as injuries start setting in.

The good news is the Bears are well-positioned to do something about it. They have more cap space than anybody in the league going into 2023. They also will hold at least the #4 pick in the draft, which will most likely become #2 after the season finale on Sunday. There is a strong possibility Ryan Poles could move down, secure extra draft picks, and take the top offensive lineman in the draft. It would be a shock if the unit weren’t marginally improved by next autumn.

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Chris Parker
Chris Parker
Jan 8, 2023 4:35 pm

The writer discusses at length the supposed failures of the offensive line, but doesn’t say a word about how long Fields holds the ball in the pocket (still after two seasons) – due to not seeing wide open receivers downfield, having a hard time making second reads when first receiver isn’t open, and generally struggling with the cognitive aspect of the game. The writer raves about an “improvement” in passer rating to 85.3, which I’m pretty sure is still near the bottom of the NFL among starting quarterbacks. I still don’t know if Fields has thrown for over 200 yards… Read more »

Thomas Gena
Thomas Gena
Jan 8, 2023 9:03 am

If a QB is known to “panic’ or shut down under pressure, defensive coordinators will devise ways in which to send pressure.
Only Justin Fields himself, can solve his dilemma. He can begin by working on accelerating his release time on “in-rhythm” passes. Accurate passes, delivered on time, has to be his off-season development project.

JB Books
JB Books
Jan 7, 2023 3:00 pm

Improving the O line must be a top priority because it’s the Bears’ weakest link, shouldn’t cost a ton of cap money or involve heavy risk in player acquisition, and keeps the most valuable member of the team from getting his arm ripped off and beaten over the head with it.

Jan 7, 2023 2:02 pm

Who agrees with me that the bears should spend most of there draft picks on the defense. The bears WR just need to know the play book better and develop chemistry with Fields. The o line is getting better as the season goes on!

Martin Melhus
Martin Melhus
Jan 7, 2023 12:16 pm

As bad as the O line is, the D line is at least as bad. While Fields was sacked 8 times in a game, the D line has gotten something like 8 sacks in the last 10 games. Both lines need major work.

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