This is not an article I ever wanted to write. This is not an article I ever thought I’d have to write. In fact, this article has been in my drafts for two weeks simply because I didn’t want to throw shade at the most talented quarterback in franchise history. I have been an avid supporter of Justin Fields even before the Bears even selected him in the 2021 NFL Draft. When they did so, it was a wrap. It felt like the Bears won the Super Bowl (I had MUCH different feelings when we got shafted by the 49ers to move up for Trubisky.. this was not a theme). I said I would go down with the ship if he faltered, and I have not shaken in that stance.

I was beyond convinced that he would be the one to break the Chicago quarterback curse. He simply had too much talent to not succeed. Some will read this article’s title and automatically assume I am a part of the anti-Fields crowd. The fact of the matter is that could not be further from the truth. I still believe Fields can be a wildly successful player, and he has shown (many) flashes of being just that. However, no player should be exempt from criticism for poor play, and he is no exception.

On top of being an avid Justin Fields supporter, I have also been an avid Justin Fields defender. I tiptoed around his development and chalked up his poor passing numbers to the crippling lack of talent around him. After all, his playmaking ability did single-handedly keep them in games against teams they had no business competing with. However, the front office added a significant amount of talent around him this offseason, and they now boast one of the better offensive skill-position groups in the entire league.

Despite the improvements they’ve made, Fields, who received the second-most MVP votes in the entire league this offseason, has seemingly regressed and has never looked more uncomfortable. While he has still flashed potential in each contest (a testament to his natural talent), those flashes have been far too infrequent for the type of player he can be. There is simply no denying that he should be much more consistent in his third year in the league.

Fields may have as much talent as anyone playing the quarterback position today, but talent is not all it takes to succeed at the NFL level. Unfortunately, decisiveness and the ability to diagnose defensive schemes are much more important qualities than being a world-class athlete with a rocket arm, and that is where the third-year signal caller falls behind his peers. This was the same knock against him coming out of Ohio State, where he benefitted from playing with a group of pass-catchers that would be considered elite in the pros, let alone at the collegiate level.

Fields never had to make a concerted effort to throw Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, who had no issues creating separation on their own against Big Ten defenses, open. He was never going to have the same luxury against NFL defensive backs and was always going to have to adjust his game in that department. Unfortunately, he has yet to take that step, and the Bears coaching staff lacks the ability to teach that to him.

Fields is far from the only person to blame for his lack of development, and he isn’t even the biggest problem. That recognition belongs to Luke Getsy, the man hired to get the most out of him. I wrote that Getsy is on the hot seat after their awful performance against Green Bay, and he has done nothing but justify that stance since. Instead of making the game easier for Fields through play action (which effectively cuts the field in half) and staying committed to the ground game (which keeps defenses honest and potentially widens throwing lanes if they find success), he has instead opted to emphasize check-downs and keeping him in the pocket.

Anyone who watched a single Bears game last year could have told you that Fields’ running ability is the key to his success. Nevertheless, Getsy seemed to miss that memo, as the Bears offense has inexplicably failed to emphasize that part of his game. If they want to have any hope of turning the ship around, they need to re-unlock his running ability. Sure, they might not replicate their success from last year with more attention brought to his legs, but there is only so much defenses can do against a player with his playmaking ability.

This is the first article I have written where I have been even remotely critical of Justin Fields. The reason for that is pretty simple. I don’t think he has deserved nearly as much criticism as he has received, and I didn’t want to add to it. He has more talent in his non-dominant pinky finger than any other signal-caller in franchise history and was the only factor that made the 2022 season exciting. However, the first two games of this season could not have gone worse, and he deserves a fair share of the blame for it.

Like any article I’ve ever written criticizing any Bears player, I hope Fields proves me wrong. I hope this article ages horribly, and he makes me look like a complete idiot for ever doubting him. Unfortunately, the odds of that happening seem less and less likely with each passing week. If things don’t get better soon, the Bears will be in position to land his successor in a star-studded 2024 quarterback class.

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