When the week began, there were rumblings around Halas Hall and the national media that Justin Fields might be done for the season. He came out of the loss in Atlanta with a nasty-looking shoulder injury. The incident came on one of the game’s final plays when he landed on it awkwardly while falling out of bounds. Some reports suggested it was a shoulder dislocation. That could require surgery and a recovery time of 12-16 weeks. In other words, he wasn’t playing again in 2022. So Chicago Bears fans waited for an update.
What they got was a reminder of how ridiculous of a physical specimen Fields is. Head coach Matt Eberflus updated the media on Wednesday. The status remained the same. Fields was “day-to-day.” No surgery and no shutting down for the season. If that weren’t crazy enough, it was also confirmed the quarterback would practice, albeit on a limited basis. One can’t understate the level of toughness it takes to do that. Simply going through regular activities is painful with a shoulder separation. To practice with it is another thing entirely.
It speaks to Fields’ commitment to the team and commitment to winning.
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Justin Fields must be protected from himself.
Eberflus indicated there are no plans to shut Fields down. If he feels good enough to go, he’ll go. The reasoning is simple. The Bears are trying to win. It sends the right message to the team when the quarterback is willing to gut it out through injuries to play. That said, the Bears are 3-8. It’d be one thing if the playoffs were still a possibility. They aren’t. Throwing Fields out there against a fierce New York Jets defense on the road feels like a dangerous gamble. If it must happen, then it falls on the coaches to protect him.
That means fewer designed quarterback runs and anything that opens him up to added hits. This is a problem, considering how key they are to this offense. Still, there are other ways to generate offense without getting reckless with Justin Fields. They can run more quick-hitting passes. Maintain heavy doses of David Montgomery on the ground. Lots of play action. This could be an opportunity to explore having him pass more often, even though the offensive line is still bad.
Whatever it takes to keep him as healthy as possible.