Is Justin Fields hurting the Bears? Discourse from the Football Aftershow originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Another week, another opportunity to dissect Justin Fields the offense.
Still clearly a problem for the Bears, their offense — specifically, Fields — hasn’t figured out how to move the ball effectively, pull the trigger on open receivers and protect the football.
On top of that, he’s not adapting and improving his shortcomings. Those inefficiencies are costing the Bears.
“He isn’t really taking on what it seems like the coaching staff is trying to get him to do in terms of getting rid of the ball, you’re holding onto the ball too long, you’re not throwing it out of bounds and you’re costing your team drives that could’ve been successful,” Ruthie Polinksy said on NBC Sports Chicago’s “Football Aftershow.”
Against the Packers, everyone was to blame. The play calling, the defense, the offensive line protection and the quarterback play. The Bears across the board were terrible. No question.
This week on the road versus the Bucs, it appeared Fields was exposed.
Here are some examples to show how the Bears adjusted some of their falters from Week 1. Some of them exploited Fields for his weaknesses on offense. Let’s take, for example, the offensive line.
It was well-documented last week the number of miscommunications the line had about blocking assignments. This week, the offensive line gave Fields ample time during multiple instances. Still, Fields took six sacks.
That being said, the offensive line wasn’t perfect. Braxton Jones missed blatant block attempts. Lucas Patrick didn’t look outstanding, either. But Fields, by the eye test, had much more time to throw this week than last.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Fields not pulling the trigger; or, what he characterized this week as being too “conservative.”
Any film breakdown will show you several plays where a wide receiver for the Bears finds space and Fields doesn’t throw the ball. In my opinion, it’s the most infuriating drawback of Fields’ game. Throw the ball.
Against the Bucs, it happened again. I’ll be excited to see just how many times a receiver found open space and Fields didn’t pass the ball. (Stay tuned for the breakdowns.) But a few already leaked out across social media.
Is this why the Bears resort to screen passes? Has Fields proven untrustworthy to throw the ball downfield?
There were multiple examples of Fields throwing downfield on Sunday. He connected with DJ Moore six times for 104 yards, once on the opening drive for a 33-yard strike. He also connected with Chase Claypool for his first touchdown as a Bear, threading the needle for a 20-yard toss.
But, still, there are moments where he holds back. He misses his chance, then either checks down, escapes the pocket, or — as Polinsky mentioned — fails to throw the ball away. That doesn’t give the Bears an excuse to run a litany of screen passes, but it might be the reason they resort to that play type.
It was certainly another difficult watch for Bears fans who aspire for their beloved team to improve. But uncertainty arises when your quarterback isn’t doing his job for the offense.
“To me, today it felt like Justin was hurting this team,” Polinsky said.
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