Today’s NFL all about the quarterback, and it’s been that way for a while now. It’s the most important position in all of team sports, and its why the QB has landed at number one in my 10 Most Important Chicago Bears list in all but three of the previous thirteen years I’ve done this series. So it should come as no surprise that Chicago’s QB1, Justin Skyler Fields, is number one.
Just like the word importance it’s a subjective term, there are various ways to describe the word success. But however you define it the 2022 Bears will only be successful if Justin Fields is successful.
If you only equate success to winning football games, then you might not see the type of improvement from Fields and the team to make you a believer, but if your idea of success is Fields learning how to play at the professional level, embracing the leadership role that comes with being a franchise QB, and the offense growing each week, then you’ll probably enjoy the 2022 season.
Fields is coming off a rough rookie season with the Bears. His numbers placed him among the worst quarterbacks in the league, he turned the ball over way too much, and he took too many sacks. But if you don’t recognize the awful game planning he had to endure, and if you refuse to look at the big-time flashes he made as a rookie, then you’re trying too hard to be negative.
He made strides as the season wore on, he thrived when passing from outside the pocket, his running ability was a plus, his numbers popped on play action passes, and he was one of the better QBs in the game when throwing deep.
He began his first season as a pro with zero chance to win the starting job, something that was made apparent to him by the coaching staff and the flawed plan they devised for him. The Bears not allowing him to get any reps with the ones hampered the chemistry he should have been building with his teammates, so when he was forced into action week two he struggled. And then his first start week three he really struggled, but that pitiful game plan the coaches came up with against the Browns did him no favors.
Matt Nagy never truly embraced Fields as his QB1, even after naming him as such, because he and his coaching staff never figured out how to play to his strengths.
“Last year, my rookie year, I didn’t know if I was going to start or not, didn’t know if I was going to play,” Fields said in April via the team’s site. “My mindset right now is completely different than last year, and I’m just excited to get started.”
This year he not only went through an offseason as the unquestioned QB1, but he’s playing in an offense that is being built around what he can do, something offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has talked about this offseason.
“He’s the decision-maker on every single play,” Getsy said of the QB and the importance of building the offense around him. “Whether it’s the decision between, ‘let’s run plan A versus play B,’ or adjusting the protection or going through a progression, he’s got decisions to make on every single play that other people don’t have that affect the game. This game is built around the ball. Turnovers are the No. 1 dictator of who wins the football game, so if he has the ball and he’s the decision-maker, that’s got to be the starting point.”
Fields has had some growing pains these last few months in learning a new offense, but he’s also impressed the coaches with how he attacks each day.
“The way he comes in the building, there’s nobody that’s going to outwork him that’s in this building; coach, player,” quarterback coach Andrew Janocko said at an OTA press conference. “He’s just a talented kid. I think he has all the tools to be successful. We’re just trying to put it together for him.”
How quickly he can put it together will determine how much success the 2022 Bears have, and while I do think Fields has what it takes to be Chicago’s long term answer at quarterback, I also expect him and the Bears to struggle this year.
I’ll be surprised to see the Bears end the season with a winning record, but Fields and the offense will eventually click. Success will eventually come and he’ll prove how important he is not only to the 2022 team, but to the future of the franchise as well.