There are as many things wrong with the Bears’ offense as there are people to blame for it. And, yes, both lists include the starting quarterback.
Justin Fields would agree with that statement — that he needs to be better for the Bears’ offense to climb its way out of last in most passing categories.
“Of course, I’m not oblivious to the fact that I’m a rookie and I have a lot to learn,” Fields said this week. “But still, at the same time, I think I’m talented enough and smart enough to be able to make the right decisions on the field and be successful on the field.”
Failure has many fathers. Coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor have crafted the worst passing attack in the NFL. General manager Ryan Pace cut left tackle Charles Leno in favor of a rookie — and then when that rookie got hurt, he signed a 39-year-old — and, for some reason, brought back tight end Jimmy Graham. He has one catch this season — and a $5.3 million cap hit. The Bears’ blockers have struggled, and the receivers aren’t in sync with Fields.
But Fields has a hand in the Bears’ problems, too. It’s possible to believe two things at the same time: that the Bears must be patient with Fields and that he needs to start rewarding the team for it, starting Sunday against the 49ers.
So far, his NFL résumé is as broken as the offense:
† Fields has been awful when pressured, taking sacks on 14.4% of his drop-backs. No other NFL quarterback is above 10%. Fields has been pressured within three seconds of the snap on 20.9% of his drop-backs, the highest percentage in the league, according to NFL NextGen Stats.
† He has been bad with a clean pocket, too. His passer rating when he’s not under pressure is 75.3, the lowest in the NFL.
† Fields’ net yards per pass attempt — which deducts sack yardage — is 4.16, which ranks last among the 33 qualified quarterbacks.
“I mean, our details in pass protection, our details in route-running, our details in the decision-making and the throwing at quarterback and then putting it all together, it’s hard,” Lazor said Thursday. “I’m not saying no one is playing well. But to be honest, I’m assuming we’re still 32nd in sacks per pass attempt, 32nd in passing yards per game, 32nd in passing yards per attempt. So to stand up and say there’s a bright spot would be pretty ridiculous.”
Fields needs to create those bright spots. For the first time in his pro career, he was markedly worse in his last start — turning the ball over five times against the Buccaneers — than his previous one.
Fields separates his mistakes into two categories: new experiences and cases in which he should know better.
“Of course, things that I haven’t learned yet or experienced yet, then, yeah, I can give myself a break,” he said. “But [situations] that I know I’m supposed to make a play on or throws I’m supposed to make or protections where I know where I’m supposed to go — stuff that I know I can do — that’s the stuff that frustrates me when I necessarily don’t get it done.”
The Bears believe he will get it done. It’s on Fields to do it.
“I wouldn’t downplay the fact that he’s had to do this in his life before,” Lazor said. “He’s had to do it in high school. He’s had to do it in college. He’s successful because he’s able to handle those things.”