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Fields is #1 (on Pro Football Focus’s Week 9 chart)

Justin Fields has had some ups and downs already in his young career, but at least one major outlet is finally saying he passes the eye test.

Chicago Bears v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Justin Fields has all of the tools to be a top quarterback. He has arm talent, evasive ability, and the intelligence to anchor a franchise.

However, he has also been sacked so often that he is facing criticism for how he plays, and Chicago’s record is spotty, at best.

Still, despite the loss for the Chicago Bears on Monday night, the “numeric eye test” that is Pro Football Focus gave Justin Fields top marks for Week 9. His 90.5 led the league among quarterbacks. Does that actually mean anything? Yes, it does.

First, it means that he will get positive attention from Cris Collinsworth, who owns a stake in PFF and who also provides regular commentary on football. Getting Fields established as a franchise quarterback might help the league remember to protect him when defenders blatantly take multiple steps and then hit him after the ball is released. That could save a drive or two, and also prolong the kid’s career.

Second, it means that he is finally putting together games where outsiders (not just Chicago fans) like what they are seeing. That should help reassure nervous fans of the Navy and Orange that the positive signs they are seeing are there, even if the stat sheet isn’t setting records yet.

Finally, it means that the plan implemented on Monday seemed to work. For a change, Fields was able to cut loose more consistently, and he was able to target tight ends and Mooney on deep routes. He used his legs intelligently. The blueprint of how to make him more successful was at least sketched out.

If the coaches (ahem, Matt Nagy) can start playing to #1’s strengths more consistently, this won’t be the last time he earns honors in one form or another.