If it seems incongruous to laud the Bears for their effort against the Eagles while wishing they’d throw in the towel on the rest of the season, then I guess I should be under a doctor’s care for a bad case of incongruity.
If it’s conflicted to be wowed by Justin Fields’ make-’em-miss, make-’em-pay run in the second quarter and concerned about statistics that show quarterbacks who get sacked six times in a game aren’t long for this world, then call me conflicted.
There was all of that and more in the Bears’ 25-20 loss at Soldier Field on Sunday, a day that was weird and uplifting and probably unlike anything anyone expected. It was an internal tug of war for those of us who want to see Fields improve and survive.
Maybe this is the best way to look at things: 14 games down and three to go before general manager Ryan Poles can get the quarterback the help he desperately needs.
Implied in that last sentence is that Poles knows what he’s doing. We’ll see. In the meantime, ask Santa Claus for better blocking down the stretch.
Many people with an interest in the Bears spent the last week comparing Fields and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Both are running quarterbacks. This game showed us that’s where the similarity ends. One plays for a team lacking talent. The other plays for a team filled with talent. That doesn’t mean Fields is as good a QB as Hurts, or that he will be. It means it’s impossible to compare right now.
But Sunday gave us one definitive: Fields is by far a better runner than Hurts is — faster, quicker, harder to catch. Oh, and Hurts is the one who rushed for three touchdowns.
If you were looking to judge Fields on his passing ability, you weren’t given much of a chance. Philadelphia sacked him all those times, pressured him countless other times and basically made the pocket a work of fiction. That left him on the run, which is what he does best.
He’ll take your breath away with that running, and he’ll make you hold your breath.
That second-quarter run . . . I’d call it amazing, but there have been so many like it this season that amazing has become almost normal. On second-and-27, Fields somehow eluded pass-rushing fiend Haason Reddick, who was unaware he was trying to grab a ghost by the neck. Thought he had him. Thought wrong. Fields was gone for a 39-yard gain. He rushed for 95 yards, giving him an even 1,000 on the season, the most by a quarterback in team history.
“That run he made down there, it’s just phenomenal,’’ coach Matt Eberflus said.
Then there’s the flip side. Fields came up limping after a hit midway through the fourth quarter. It turned out to be a leg cramp, but that’s not what Chicago was thinking in the moment. Chicago was thinking, “Oh, the humanity!”
After the game, a reporter asked Fields if his goal was 1,000 rushing yards every season, which I believe would be the definition of a death wish. If Fields is running for that many yards (and his life) in the future, it will mean that Poles didn’t know an offensive lineman from a leading man in “Les Miserables.’’
“No, sir,’’ Fields said in response to the question.
We still don’t know if Fields is a good passer. One of his two touchdown passes came when the Eagles thought he was going to scramble with the ball and left receiver Byron Pringle wide open for a 35-yard score. He completed 14 of 21 passes (good) for 152 yards (meh).
But it was clear from the beginning that this wouldn’t be a game to gauge growth on his throwing ability. Philadelphia’s nasty pass rush wasn’t going to allow that. This was going to be a game of survival.
So, yes, the Bears won Sunday: Fields walked off the field under his own power. Parade down Michigan Avenue on Monday.
For most of the first half, Hurts looked about as ordinary as an NFL quarterback can look, which was very strange, considering he’s a leading candidate for the league MVP. The 3-10 Bears were hanging on valiantly against a 12-1 team. All of it could have been the result of the Eagles looking ahead to their next game against NFC East rival Dallas. So what? The Bears, who haven’t had much to celebrate this season, didn’t care about qualifications. They made a game of it.
Hurts ended up with 315 passing yards and two interceptions. Fields ended up healthy. Repeat after me: 14 games down, three to go.