Justin Fields has spoiled us, and a cold, ugly loss to the Bills proved it

The Bears quarterback, who came into the game with 1,000 rushing yards, ran for just 11 on Saturday.

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields getting tackled Saturday.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields is tackled in the first quarter of the Bears’ 35-13 loss to the Bills on Saturday.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

We’ve been spoiled. We’ve grown so used to seeing Justin Fields dine and dash on opposing defenses this season that we take it for granted now. When it’s not there, the way it wasn’t there Saturday at Soldier Field, we’re left with hunger pangs. We’re disoriented, too. No amazing runs by the kid? Where are we? What happened to the GPS?

That odd, empty feeling was there from start to finish in the Bears’ 35-13 loss to the Bills, with Fields rushing for a season-low 11 yards (on seven carries). This is a guy who could get 11 yards in a barber chair. Anyone who came to see him do his thing Saturday instead saw a show about nothing.

Did you ever want to know what life would look like if Fields were a stand-in-the-pocket passer who lacked the ability to run? Of course you didn’t. But you got it anyway on a brutally cold day, with a quarterback looking very, very human. Nobody wants to see that. Garden-variety normal is us, not him. As the game wore on and he struggled to do anything of substance on the ground, the question became whether Fields was looking human because of the Bills’ defense, because of the Bears’ play-calling or because of an injury.

Coach Matt Eberflus commended Buffalo, which often used linebacker Matt Milano as a spy to try to limit Fields’ mobility. But it sure seemed as if the Bears, for whatever reason, shied away from unleashing their quarterback’s ability to run. Or, to put it another way, Fields has been able to run against anybody this season, whether it be spies, moles or sleeper cells. He came into the game with 1,000 rushing yards. The Bills, good as they are, suddenly solved him? They only solved him because he ran seven times.

Fields said he aggravated his left shoulder, which he separated in Week 11, during Saturday’s game. Did that limit him against the Bills? Nobody was saying.

If you were looking for good news, it was that Fields’ lack of rushing attempts meant the chances of his head being removed from the rest of his body were reduced. Maybe that was the game plan. The Bills have a great defense, the Bears don’t have much in the way of an offensive line and Fields lived to walk another day.


Someone stepped on his foot late in the game, and Nathan Peterman replaced him.

“Justin Fields is fine,’’ Eberflus said after the game, and a city exhaled.

“Still can’t put like full weight on it, but I’ll be good to go,’’ Fields said later, setting off a run on votive candles.

The most interesting thing about Saturday’s game was the minus-12 wind chill and the clothing decisions of the people who decided to brave the elements and attend the game. I’ll just say this: If Santa Claus outfits and beer are a good way to fight off the cold, why don’t we see more of that combo on Michigan Avenue in January?

A steady, 18-mph wind made snaps out of the shotgun an adventure and passes a guessing game. In light of that, Fields’ accuracy (15-for-23) was excellent. His 119 yards through the air were about what you’d expect on a cold day from a quarterback who still has a long way to go in the passing game. Then again, he didn’t throw an interception, and Bills quarterback Josh Allen threw two. That would seem to speak highly of the Bears’ defense, right? Not even close.

The linemen and linebackers couldn’t seem to get a hand on either James Cook, who averaged nine yards a carry, or Devin Singletary (8.8). It needs to be pointed out that most of the defense was made up of two kinds of players, the little-known ones and the unknown ones. Trades and injuries have taken a toll. But that won’t do much to placate Chicago, a city that has grown up on a diet of Hall of Fame defenders.

The Bears are 3-12 in this rebuilding season. They’ll get a high first-round draft pick out of it, though fans might have had a hard time keeping their eyes on that prize Saturday. The loss was the team’s eighth straight, but most of the previous seven were filled with at least one brilliant run by Fields.

That’s why the afternoon felt so empty. He’s spoiled us. He’s made us think that this is the way it’s always going to be. Imagine what the season would have been like if Bears coaches hadn’t had an epiphany in November and realized the kid could run.

On second thought, don’t.

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