Two quarterbacks loomed larger than any other freshmen as the 2018 college football season came into view: Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields.
One, Clemson’s Lawrence, would beat out returning starter Kelly Bryant and lead the Tigers to a national championship. The other, Georgia’s Fields, would fail to beat out returning starter Jake Fromm and play pretty much only in garbage time.
A year later, having transferred to Ohio State, Fields didn’t officially nail down the starting job with the Buckeyes — beating out a graduate transfer who’d been a backup at Kentucky — until late in training camp, frustrating coach Ryan Day.
From there — belatedly — Fields’ career took off.
Here in Bears country, most of us seem to have our minds made up that the team’s new QB1 is the franchise cornerstone we’ve been waiting for. Maybe he is. But he still has a mountain to climb before he proves he’s as good as — or better than — Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance, the quarterbacks taken before him in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. And Fields isn’t even a blip on the radar compared with Packers superstar Aaron Rodgers, whom he’ll oppose for the first time Sunday at Soldier Field.
An ugly day against the Packers can cast a Bears quarterback in a harsh light. An ugly stretch of games against the Packers, covering multiple seasons, can wreck a Bears quarterback’s reputation. That’s the danger Fields has inherited.
Lots of luck, kid.
And here’s what’s happening:
Dolphins vs. Jaguars (8:30 a.m., Ch. 2)
Look, the Fins and Jags may have a combined record of 1-9, but just think about it: They’re the best two American football teams in all of England.
Packers at Bears (noon, Fox-32)
Is this an elite Bears defense or isn’t it? And against Aaron Rodgers, does it even matter?
Mercury at Sky, Game 4 (2 p.m., ESPN)
One more “W,” and the Sky have their first-ever WNBA title. Watch and learn, Bulls.
Cowboys at Patriots (3:25 p.m., Ch. 2)
How long ago was Dallas’ last victory over New England? Put it this way: Troy Aikman and Drew Bledsoe were the quarterbacks.
Dodgers at Braves, Game 2 (6:37 p.m., TBS)
Truist Park was supposed to host the 2021 All-Star Game. Instead, it hosts a National League Championship series foe that’s essentially an all-star team.
Astros at Red Sox, Game 3 (7:07 p.m., FS1)
Houston already made easy work of one Sox team during these playoffs. Something tells us you knew that already.
Bills at Titans (7:15 p.m., ESPN)
With cornerback Josh Norman now playing in San Francisco, which Bills defender has the guts to step forward and be stiff-armed into oblivion by Titans running back Derrick Henry?
E60: A Love Story (6 p.m., ESPN2)
A devastating diagnosis of ALS has tested — and deepened — the unlikely romance between a high school wrestling coach and the daughter of a former NHL superstar.
Nets at Bucks (6:30 p.m., TNT)
Two expected title contenders go at it in the NBA season opener, but, wait, where’s Kyrie Irving? We’ll do some “research” and get back to you.
Islanders at Blackhawks (7p.m., ESPN)
Not to tell Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton how to do his job, but perhaps he can employ a strategy that involves playing defense in the opening minutes of the game.
Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (9 p.m., HBO)
Segments include one on the “modern-day gold rush” as college athletes begin to profit — legally, for a change — after a landmark ruling by the NCAA.
Bulls at Pistons (6 p.m., NBCSCH)
Zach LaVine. Nikola Vucevic. DeMar DeRozan. Lonzo Ball. The fun of a new season officially begins. At least, we think it’s going to be fun. Please let this be fun.
Canucks at Blackhawks (7:30 p.m., NBCSCH)
Man, this was one heck of a rivalry back in the day. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when both teams involved are actually good.
Pelicans at Bulls (7 p.m., NBCSCH)
These are two of the most reworked rosters in the NBA. If you’ve watched the Pels and Bulls in recent seasons, you know that’s probably not a bad thing for either team.
Suns at Lakers (9 p.m., ESPN)
Anybody remember LeBron James and Anthony Davis? They used to be really good until an upstart team from Phoenix knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs.
Northwestern at Michigan (11 a.m., Fox-32)
The Wildcats are just kind of hanging around at 3-3, but they always seem to be good for one or two upsets nobody saw coming.
USC at Notre Dame (6:30 p.m., Ch. 5)
There have been better Trojans and Irish teams, no doubt, but few sights in college football can match these two uniforms sharing a field under the lights. Especially when football players are wearing them.