Justin Fields has plenty of doubters. After his struggles last season, that was inevitable, throwing seven touchdowns to 10 interceptions and fumbling 12 times. It was evident he had lots of work to do before he could be considered a good NFL quarterback. However, while everybody has taken the easy route of hammering him for those mistakes, at least one person surprisingly came to his defense this past month.
Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms made plenty of noise last year when he released his 2021 quarterback draft class rankings. To the shock of many, he had Fields ranked fifth in that group behind Zach Wilson, Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, and even Kellen Mond. He had concerns about accuracy issues and bad mechanics. One would think he’d carry that same argument over to his 2022 NFL quarterback rankings, but that was not the case. Simms had Fields ranked 23rd in the league, even ahead of Lawrence (#24) and Jalen Hurts (#25).
After getting a chance to watch the tape, he came away impressed by Fields’ development.
“There’s a lot of wow with Justin Fields. He made a lot of wow plays, and not just with his legs because his legs are gifted and he’s as athletic as anybody in the sport as far as the quarterback is concerned. He’s up there with Lamar Jackson as far as the ability to run and the wow factor running the ball.
But I think the thing I’m most impressed by, going back and watching, is wow, damn, he makes some wow throws every game. Every game. And I think that’s where I went, ‘Man, OK, Justin Fields, a little bit more of a polished passer, a little bit more control with some of the down-the-field, wow-type throws than I gave him credit for.’ And he didn’t have the greatest offense or support system around him, and that’s where I give him a lot of credit.”
Justin Fields made strides but has work to do.
The biggest thing Simms believes he must fix is the mentality of playing too much ‘hero’ ball. He was not running out of bounds or sliding enough when scrambling and trying to fight through tackles rather than just taking a sack. Nobody doubts his toughness, but this style of play leads to injuries and unnecessary turnovers. He must learn when to surrender and move on to the next play.
It is hard to argue with that assessment. For the part of the Bears’ new coaching staff, they seem intent on quickening his entire post-snap process. Everything from his footwork to his passing motion is being refined to get the ball out of his hands faster. It is also hoped that his processing speed at reading defenses will improve. If things progress as planned, Justin Fields should be a much better quarterback this season.