Simms slams Fields in his 2023 NFL QB rankings originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Justin Fields hasn’t done enough to climb in Chris Simms’ annual quarterback rankings. Simms announced his Nos. 20 through 24 QBs in the NFL on Wednesday, and Fields came in at No. 23, the exact same spot he held last year.
“I can’t buy into it yet,” Simms said on his podcast, “Chris Simms Unbuttoned,” to explain the ranking. “I need to see a little bit more before I’m ready to say he’ll take over the world, or do something special.
“The throwing is a collection of great plays with no consistency. In fact his overall quarterback game is that. That’s where he’s 23 for me.”
Simms did concede that Fields is an “insane” playmaker when he rushes the ball, and noted his penchant for putting together some of the most exciting highlights in the game. But to Simms those big plays are empty calories.
“When you put him up there with some of the better running backs and receivers in football, it’s as dangerous as some of those guys in the open field.
“You get into it, and you see that, and you start to go, ‘This is awesome when you see it on ESPN or the NBC Sports highlights. Yeah, these are cool to watch.’ But then you start to break down the game and you go, ‘Oh man, he missed this throw,’ or ‘He should’ve thrown it, but he didn’t throw it.’”
Simms also went into great detail on how he doesn’t like Fields’ “elbowy” throwing mechanics, as he has several times in the past. We don’t need to rehash it here, since Simms has consistently critiqued Fields’ mechanics ever since he had Fields ranked the No. 4 quarterback in the 2021 draft behind Kellen Mond (who was waived by the Vikings after his rookie year) (and yes he had Zach Wilson ranked No. 1).
Regardless, Fields’ supreme rushing talent probably should elevate him to 20, over the likes of guys like Jimmy Garoppolo and Mac Jones, who are slotted ahead of him.
Fields falls in Simms’ “S–t or get off the pot” tier of quarterbacks, along with Baker Mayfield (No. 24), Garoppolo (No. 22), Tua Tagovailoa (No. 21) and Jones (No. 20). That’s to say, Fields is among the players who need to show what they’ve got this year, in Simms’ eyes.
That’s not completely unfair. Last season, the Bears were frank in saying they had an incomplete grade on Fields’ year because he was often running for his life behind a leaky offensive line, and didn’t have much help from the skill players around him. The Bears have injected some talent on the offense though, with big additions like new No. 1 WR DJ Moore, first-round draft pick Darnell Wright and free agent signee Nate Davis.
It’s also no secret that Fields has room to grow. The Bears have worked on his footwork to try to improve his accuracy in the short game. It’s Fields’ goal to work through his progressions more quickly this year, too. Improvements in both of those areas would go a long way towards turning Fields from an exciting playmaker with high upside into a top-tier QB.
What is a little unfair was Simms suggesting Fields wasn’t confident in his ability to throw accurate balls, the Bears don’t trust him, and he wasn’t as good of a leader as some of his peers.
“He doesn’t want to throw it, because he doesn’t trust where it’s going to go,” Simms said.
Many things have been said about Fields, but that’s a new one. One can critique his processing, or not recognizing receivers who are “NFL open” vs. open in the college game, but you can’t find anyone in the Bears locker room more confident than Fields. He doesn’t believe he can be great, he knows he can be great, and he instills that belief in others.
If you’re mad about the ranking, consider this: last year Simms had Wilson ranked No. 22 and Jalen Hurts ranked No. 25. Obviously each of those were completely off base as Wilson fell flat as one of the worst QBs in the league, and an even worse leader. Of course Hurts emerged as one of the best in his incredible campaign leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl.