Bears QB Justin Fields remains resolute, confident amid rookie struggles
The Bears’ dismal offense, .500 record and his own setbacks require quite an adjustment for a quarterback who dominated college football at the highest level.
The Bears have praised rookie quarterback Justin Fields’ resilience since the day he arrived, whether it was bouncing back from an interception in practice or his disastrous debut as the starter in Cleveland. He always seems steady and ready to move forward.
That’s an essential quality for this particular job, especially at a time when the offense has sunk to its lowest scoring average since 2005. It’s quite a change from when Fields starred at Ohio State the last two seasons.
“We’re not in the Big Ten where Ohio State is most likely more talented than the other teams you play,” Fields said. “It’s a longer season . . . You get knocked down. You just have to keep coming back. As long as we do that, we will be good and we will continue to grow.”
That’s a wise perspective this early in his career. That being said, the Bears’ offense has been pitiful so far this season.
They are averaging 16.3 points per game, which is about half the scoring average of their upcoming opponent, the Buccaneers. There’s no doubt that’s difficult for Fields to absorb after leading an Ohio State offense that averaged almost 45 points, and he has already lost as many games as the Bears’ starter (2-2) as he did with the Buckeyes (20-2).
The offensive dysfunction certainly preceded Fields. It’s the exact problem the Bears wanted to solve by drafting him. But it takes time for a rookie quarterback, even one who came out of college this polished, to get rolling. The team is still waiting for him to give it a jolt.
Over his first six games, including spot appearances in the opener and playing more than half the game in Week 2, he has completed 54% of his passes, thrown for two touchdowns against three interceptions and posted a 67.4 passer rating, plus he ran 26 times for 102 yards and a touchdown.
No matter how much patience Fields conveys, it’s got to be maddening to endure that after dominating the highest level of college football. He’s literally working overtime to change that.
“After practice, he’s getting a lot of work in,” wide receiver Darnell Mooney said. “He wants to get reps in on certain things [that didn’t] work out in practice. The mindset that we have is once we get it to work once, we’ll get it to work in a game. Some of the things, like maybe a deep ball that didn’t work out in practice, we’ll get it in after practice.”
This will be a very difficult week for Fields to get everything to click because the Buccaneers have the NFL’s best run defense and will try to force Fields to beat them through the air.
After Sunday, by the way, the Bears face the 49ers (No. 15 scoring defense), Steelers (No. 12) and Ravens (No. 7). There won’t be a reprieve until visiting the Lions in Week 12.
But Fields can’t worry about toppling them all at once, and really there’s no reason to be preoccupied with any specific opponent at this stage — even the Bucs. It’s still early for him, and it’s more important that he keeps making strides than measuring how the Bears compare to the defending champions.
“We are growing every day,” Fields reassured. “The part that sucks is not being able to win games. As long as we are growing and getting better every day, that’s the main focus right now. Eventually our growth will pay off.”
He was talking about the offense overall, but he might as well have been outlining the way everyone — including him — should view his rookie season. It’s a struggle at the moment, but if he keeps getting better, eventually the big wins will come.