You wanted to see signs of “the leap,” Bears fans? Well, Justin Fields – albeit in a small sample size – is showing you.
Fields has rebounded resoundingly from a bad start to the 2023 season to go on a tear over his last eight quarters of football, throwing for eight touchdowns compared to just one interception and putting up 699 yards and a 131.5 passer rating.
Most importantly for his future, perhaps, the Chicago Bears (1-4) finally got on board in the win column for the first time in a year. As it stands right now, it’s hard to envision Chicago keeping him as their starting quarterback unless more wins follow, even if he has a big season.
That said, let’s look at some statistics of where Fields is after five games: 1,114 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns (tied for the NFL lead as of today) versus five interceptions, a 61.84 completion percentage, and a solid 95.4 NFL passer rating.
Now, let’s consider these numbers: 1,359 passing yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 67.92% completions and a 97.4 passer rating.
Fairly comparable, yes?
The mystery statistics belong to Jalen Hurts from last season, which saw him lead a team that went 15-1 and fought to the last down in the Super Bowl. Hurts, of course, signed a five-year, $255 million extension this off-season that remains one of the richest contracts in NFL history.
The profiles of their respective starts to their third seasons also bear a few similarities: three games with a passer rating of 90 or below and two games with passer ratings over 100. The main difference: Fields’ three off games were worse than Hurts’ by a good amount – all with a passer rating under 80 – while his two good games were better with a higher level of passing production.
Compare Fields’ passing touchdowns and interceptions to Josh Allen’s from the first five games of his third year (2020; 14 TDs vs. 3 INTs), and you have an interesting discussion.
The difference there, though, was the fact that Allen’s other stats, from completion percentage (69.31%) to passer rating (113.0), were all superior to Fields during that span. (It’s worth noting Allen did taper off after that hot start and had to surge again down the stretch.)
Then, there’s the winning of it all.
Hurts didn’t have to do much aside from manage a loaded Eagles roster to a 5-0 start, though he eventually proved himself capable of elevating, said roster on big stages. Allen, meanwhile, was the catalyst behind Buffalo’s 4-1 start to the 2020 season.
Additionally, neither one of them had the specter of Caleb Williams hanging over their head if they didn’t perform well.
It’s possible a Hurts/Allen-level jump might not be enough to guarantee Fields remains in Chicago next season if Carolina gifts the Bears the top pick in next year’s draft. He might even need to supernova on an unprecedented level to even make the Bears think twice in such a scenario.
Still, what he’s done the last two games at least makes you think the possibility still exists. If nothing else, Fields is far from broken. In fact, he might be slowly breaking through.