Justin Fields has endured a lot of pain in his first NFL season. He’s already been sacked 31 times with several games still to play. Then the Baltimore Ravens knocked him out last Sunday with what was revealed to be a rib injury. Initial reports indicated it was bruised ribs. While good news from a long-term standpoint, it was still enough to ensure the rookie would not start on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions.
Now further testing has changed the diagnosis. According to Ian Rapoport, an MRI revealed that Fields’ ribs actually have tiny fractures in them. No doubt a painful injury to be sure. However, the belief is that Fields will still be able to return in a short period of time. The Bears do have a 10-day layoff following the Lions game today. He may try to return for the homestand against the Arizona Cardinals.
From @GMFB: Checking in on #Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb (concussion), RB Zeke Elliott (bone bruise in his knee)… and the the latest on #Bears QB Justin Fields and his cracked ribs. pic.twitter.com/LiZPAdcR7h
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 25, 2021
This underscores a key issue for the Bears.
Nobody can debate that Justin Fields is tough. He has proven that many times dating back to his days at Ohio State. The problem is he can’t continue to absorb this kind of punishment every week before the injuries become more and more significant. The team has to find a way to protect him better. Not to mention the young quarterback has to get better about protecting himself.
Both in terms of avoiding unnecessary hits and also learning to get the ball out faster. Take checkdowns more often rather than always seeking the big play. This is something that will likely be addressed this coming offseason. Both in efforts to improve the offensive line and also finding a better option at head coach. Somebody that can craft an offense better suited to Fields’ strengths while working to keep him upright. It will be interesting to see if the Bears let him return right away or try to hold him out until the injury heals more.