When thinking about Chicago Bears that need a good performance the most this Sunday, it has to be Justin Fields. The quarterback entered the 2023 season with tons of promise. GM Ryan Poles had provided a flashy new receiver in D.J. Moore. He’d retooled the offensive line with 1st round pick Darnell Wright. It was also the second year he’d be playing in the same system. People rightfully expected some progress from him as a passer. His disappointing performance against Green Bay crushed a lot of hopes.
Fields managed only 216 yards on 37 attempts, including a backbreaking pick-six. The Packers once again completely shut him down. Fields admitted he played too conservative at times, passing up some open opportunities down the field. Now he must go on the road to Tampa Bay against a Buccaneers defense that embarrassed him two years ago. There isn’t much optimism for what’s to come.
However, there are developments on the injury front that may present an opportunity. Reports indicate the Bucs defense will be down two key pieces on Sunday. Top cornerback Carlton Davis is dealing with a toe injury, while 1st round pick Calijah Kancey, their most explosive interior pass rusher, is hobbled by a calf problem.
Justin Fields has entered a gut-check situation.
Interior pressure was a big problem for the Bears last week. With Kancey out of the picture, Fields may not see it much in this game. Davis is their most dependable cover corner. Even with him on the field, Tampa Bay allowed 344 yards through the air last week against Minnesota. Without him, there is no reason Fields shouldn’t be able to find opportunities for big plays. The only thing that could mess it up is if the Bears quarterback is unprepared for the aggressive blitzing the Buccaneers will do.
Luckily, that might not be as problematic as two years ago. Justin Fields has proven far better at beating the blitz since the start of last season. He went 9-of-11 with a touchdown whenever Green Bay sent extra rushers last week. Todd Bowles is creative. So, the Bears will have to study hard in preparation for his exotic packages. Still, with the Bucs defense missing two key pieces, it’s likely they will get ultra-aggressive. If Fields can weather the storm, he may have a bounceback performance.