Since the end of the 2022 NFL season, most national articles and talking points across the country are that Justin Fields isn't good enough to be a winning or Playoff caliber quarterback in the National Football League. I get what they are trying to say, but they say/write it without knowing all the facts or even wanting to know all the facts.
After Fields transferred from Georgia to Ohio State, he was one of the more successful quarterbacks in College Football. In 2020 he led Ohio State to the National Championship after totally outplaying Clemson's Trevor Lawrence in the College Football Playoff Semi-final game. Yet since he's been a pro, all we have heard is negative narratives on how he can't process, he holds on to the ball too long, he isn't accurate, etc.
I say all of it is nonsense, especially when we look at the actual facts.
The Chicago Bears, under Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, traded up in the 2021 Draft to select Fields as their future franchise quarterback. What they did after selecting him didn't help his progress but rather hurt it.
Nagy felt that the best way for Fields to learn was to sit and learn behind Andy Dalton, who was no better than a journeyman quarterback in the League. During the off-season program and in training camp, Fields did not get the reps needed to grow. After a few games, when it became apparent that Dalton was not going to get the job done, Fields was handed the starting job, but he wasn't ready for it. That was not his fault but rather the coaching staff's fault for not preparing him properly up until that time.
Fields flashed his big-time talent, but for the most part, he struggled as a rookie mainly because he was going through rookie growing pains, and his supporting cast was one of the worst in the League.
Following his rookie year, Bears' ownership made a change in football leadership by firing Pace and Nagy and bringing in Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus to lead the Bears back to prominence. One of the first things Poles found out when he was reviewing the roster was that it was a sub-standard NFL roster with most of the key players being on the wrong side of 30.
Poles could have done it the easy way by acquiring some decent players to help the Bears improve, but the reality is those would have been band-aids, and it wouldn't have been in the franchise's best interest to do it that way. He chose the hard way, which was also the correct way, by stripping down the roster and building it back up, using draft pics and some quality free agents.
On top of that, a new offense was installed, an offense that has had success around the League with teams like the Rams, 49ers and Packers. While it is an excellent offense, it is hard to learn and implement. Only one skill player on the Bears roster had ever played in this scheme as a pro, and that was wide receiver Equanimous St. Brown.
Not only did Justin Fields have to learn a new scheme with new terminology and an entirely different philosophy than the scheme he played as a rookie, but so did the rest of the offense.
It was going to take time.
Fields was not only playing in a new scheme, it was the third different scheme he played in over the last three seasons. He played one scheme at Ohio State, then Matt Nagy's as a rookie, and new Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy's scheme in 2022. If you think that's easy, you've never played football. There is no similarity between any of the three offenses.
The offense was going to struggle especially given the fact that it was undermanned on both the offensive line and wide receiver positions. The chances of the offense playing winning football in 2022 were very slim.
In this past offseason, Ryan Poles went about reshaping the offensive roster. He got rid of the deadwood, brought in a quality guard in free agency In Nate Davis, traded for a top wide receiver (D.J. Moore), and drafted one of the better tackles in college football last season (Darnell Wright) to play right tackle. The Bears' offense is now in a position to play much better football, score more points, and of course, win more games.
This season will also be Fields' second year in this scheme which is the first time he has played in an offensive scheme two years in a row since college. This is his third season in the League, and if we look at how some other young quarterbacks performed in their third year, this should be the year that Justin Fields takes off.
The first name of a young quarterback that comes to mind who was similar to Fields is the Bills' Josh Allen. Allen did not have close to the college career as Fields. In fact, there were many that doubted Allen would ever become a good NFL quarterback. He was only a 55% completion percentage passer in college and didn't win anywhere near the number of games that Fields won.
What Allen had was great football character — as does Fields — and he worked on his weaknesses each offseason. While he struggled his first two years, he became a star in his third. Allen was never a 60% completion percentage passer his first two years. In his third year, he jumped to 69%, a full 10 points which is unheard of. How did this happen? It was his third year in the scheme, and the Bills acquired a quality receiver in Stefon Diggs.
While this is only Fields' second year in the scheme, it is still his third year in the League, and he also has a new Pro Bowl-level receiver in D.J. Moore. Please, don't tell me Moore isn't as good as Diggs. When the trades were made, both players had spent five years in the League, and their stats were almost identical. Moore will be every bit as important to Chicago's offense as Diggs is to Buffalo's.
Let's be real, the offensive line of the Bears is stronger, the wide receiver group is much better than it was a year ago and the run game should be at least as strong if not stronger. This offense will put up points, and Justin Fields will have his best year as a pro. Not only will he be successful, but the negative narratives will go away. Why? It's my feeling the Bears will have a winning season, they may not challenge for a Playoff spot this year, but they will come close, and much will have to do with the improvement Fields has.
Count on it!