Admit it: While you were watching quarterback Justin Fields getting his hamstring worked on Sunday, you were afraid. Then you saw he hurt his shoulder on the Bears’ last drive against the Falcons and you were petrified, thinking you couldn’t live without Fields by your side.
An injured Fields is the sum of all fears for Bears fans. It’s pretty clear most were willing to accept a season full of bad losses in exchange for development. If, at the end of the season, you were sure the team had a quarterback, the losses would hurt less. It’s a mature approach to fandom, as long as the Bears hold up their end of the bargain.
What you’ve gotten so far has been better than you probably envisioned. Fields has been historically good running the ball. He has cashed in on some red-zone opportunities with his legs and arms. He also has made some throws that left mouths agape, such as his 32-yard sideline dart to David Montgomery against the Falcons.
Each week since the Commanders game has been must-watch television. Fields has been the answer to the clarion call that Bears fans have been sounding for decades about the quarterback position.
Now comes the hard part.
On Monday, coach Matt Eberflus gave a status update on Fields: “Right now it’s day-to-day. We’ll see where he is on Wednesday. So we’ve got time, and we’ll see where it is and go from there.”
For those of you who don’t speak NFL Ball Coach, saying a player is “day-to-day” is part stall tactic, part cloak and dagger. The stalling is so the team can get more advanced imaging. If a player has an injury with significant swelling, that swelling has to go down to get a clearer picture.
The subterfuge part has to do with this week’s opponent. Eberflus would like the Jets to worry about Fields playing, even if the Bears know he isn’t. Coaches feel it’s a tactic that can’t hurt and might help because it means the Jets are prepping for two quarterbacks: Fields and backup Trevor Siemian.
Fans are preparing for Siemian to play, too. I want to be clear: This is not shade toward Siemian. He was an excellent college player and has proven himself as a competent pro. But this isn’t what Bears fans signed up for. Over the last 12 weeks, they’ve given themselves to this team and have been rewarded with spectacular moments. Watching Siemian now lead the team would be a breaking of the contract and a terrible way to end a holiday weekend.
Again, Trevor, no diss. We were promised jetpacks, and nothing less than that will do.
A late brunch or relegating the Bears to background noise while you clean the house might be in order.
The bigger-picture implications are concerning. I feel pretty good about Fields’ ability. I think he has the smarts and mettle to work toward being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The hope is that he’s healthy enough to continue the season and work on things that improve passing-game production. But if he misses many weeks or the rest of the season, the grade will be incomplete.
As critical as I’ve been of general manager Ryan Poles, I would understand if he felt he didn’t have a complete picture after only five weeks of Fields’ excellence. I’m convinced that a better supporting cast can take Fields to lofty heights, but NFL front offices usually don’t make decisions based on small sample sizes. An incomplete grade on Fields makes for a murky offseason of priorities. And nobody wants that.
Here’s hoping Eberflus delivers some good news Wednesday, for Fields’ sake and yours. Sundays in Chicago have turned into a Fields watch party. Everything else is wasted time, and we all have laundry to do.