People are struggling with what happened Sunday night. Justin Fields is in his second year as an NFL quarterback, yet he looked like a rookie in his first start against the Green Bay Packers. The discomfort was evident, and he constantly struggled to find open receivers. Sure, his pass protection was inconsistent, but it was good enough to throw for more than 70 yards. People are starting to wonder if he may not have the necessary traits to be a pocket passer. Former quarterback Trent Dilfer isn’t ready to go that far.
He has a unique perspective on this. Not only did he play in the NFL for a long time and won a Super Bowl, he also coached Fields when he was coming out of high school. He watched the game Sunday night. He then appeared on 670 The Score to discuss his thoughts with Parkins & Spiegel. Yes, Justin struggled. However, part of the problem stems from the game plan by the coaching staff. They didn’t do enough to get their young quarterback in a rhythm. Everything was so focused on running the ball that offensive coordinator Luke Getsy failed to get Fields some easy completions. As a result, the quarterback never found his flow in the game.
Trent Dilfer has a point about this.
Evidence backs it up. Go back and look at the San Francisco 49ers game. The weather was a factor, sure. Still, Fields only had three completions on seven dropbacks. He was sacked twice and intercepted another time. People underestimate how detrimental a slow start is for a quarterback throughout a game. It’s also a trend that has haunted Fields since last season. His completion percentage in the 1st quarter last season was 59.18. This year? It’s 50%.
Conversely, look at Trevor Lawrence. He’s had a solid start to his second season in Jacksonville. Part of that comes from Doug Pederson’s ability to establish him early. Lawrence is 11-of-14 in the 1st quarter this season. It makes a huge difference. Fields needs that kind of consistency. Trent Dilfer knows this because he felt the same way when he played. Every quarterback does. The Bears don’t have to separate their offensive plans. They can be a run-first team but still find ways to get their QB in rhythm.
Cleveland has the third-highest run percentage in the NFL. Yet quarterback Jacoby Brissett still has a respective 86.5 passer rating. He’s nowhere near the talent Fields is.