It’s time for Justin Fields to show us something

Second-year QB has to show that spark, that magic that means he gets the game, he gets its special geometry, its quirks, anomalies and dangers.

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Justin Fields

Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears looks to pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of the preseason game at Soldier Field on August 13, 2022 in Chicago

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Odd things happen to NFL quarterbacks. I’m thinking about Mitch Trubisky here.

Ol’ Mitch keeps returning to my head because I wonder whether the man the Bears selected No. 2 overall in the 2017 draft is a fizzled dud the way we thought he was. Or maybe . . . 

Trubisky is now in his sixth NFL season, and it looks possible he will start for the Steelers.

What if he has learned, improved, is in a good system and shines?

Trubisky might be a cautionary tale for the Bears. He has gone from hopeful star to failure to benched to two-time free agent to possible franchise leader. Seems unlikely, but it might happen.

Analyst and former quarterback Tim Hasselbeck said recently: ‘‘I think Mitchell Trubisky is a better player than the general perception of him. I think he’s a much better player than he was in Chicago, so I think he can have some success.’’

Not a wild endorsement, true. Probably more of a finger-wagging at the Bears. Like, maybe the Bears don’t know how to develop young quarterbacks. Like, maybe they don’t know how to draft them, either. 

Which brings us to Trubisky replacement and dreamy hopeful Justin Fields, the second-year man out of Ohio State, a school that never has incubated a star NFL quarterback.

Everybody knows the Bears could have drafted Patrick Mahomes instead of Trubisky. Mahomes, whom you might have watched glide up the field for an early passing touchdown for the Chiefs against the Bears in a preseason game Saturday, is a likely future Hall of Famer.

But the Bears also were criticized early on for not drafting Deshaun Watson instead of Trubisky. But who wants Watson now, after his multitude of sexual-harassment charges and current playing limbo?

Of course, the Browns do. There’s another team that could screw up a dust mote.

So the future of the Bears — for now — rests on the development of Fields. He can’t do much without talent around him, which means even linebacker Roquan Smith’s holdout nonsense affects his play.

Yet Fields has to show something. He has to show that spark, that magic that means he gets the game, he gets its special geometry, its quirks, anomalies and dangers.

The thing about the quarterback position in the NFL is that the weaknesses of whoever is playing there will be exposed. And savaged. The man in the spot needs to understand this and realize his foe’s attack on him will be relentless, his faults studied each moment by a cold-blooded horde of blitzers and coaches.

In Pittsburgh, the Steelers drafted quarterback Kenny Pickett out of hometown Pitt. The assumption is he soon will replace Trubisky, backup Mason Rudolph and any other quarterback the Steelers might have. But who knows?

Preseason games basically tell us nothing. I watched some guy named Josh Johnson throw some sweet passes Saturday against the Cowboys and thought, ‘‘Wow, a fresh young stud!’’ Then I learned the fellow is 36 and has been on 14 NFL teams. Seventeen teams total in four leagues on two continents. Hilarious. Could not make that up.

Sadly, the Bears must contend endlessly with the Packers and their ayahuasca-using and self-loving genius quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. The man is a machine. He’s 38 but seems ageless. When he dies, researchers should dissect his brain and look for computer chips and Moore’s law advancements not known to scientists.

Fields must compete with Rodgers and the man’s shadow. Sometimes it’s not how good you are but who’s better than you that matters. In fact, it’s simple: If the Bears can’t beat the Packers, the Bears and their quarterbacks are going nowhere and will be judged failures.

Rodgers is 23-5 in his career against the Bears. Maybe the only thing that will make Fields seem truly successful is when Rodgers leaves the Packers, the NFC North, the NFL entirely.

There are some new rules in the league this season that should benefit the offense, with NFL refs also having been instructed to be tougher on defenders making illegal contact with receivers. This was one of the NFL’s offseason ‘‘points of clarification,’’ and it basically means receivers can run like uncaged chipmunks after five yards.

Conversely, there seems to be no emphasis to crack down on receivers who push off. I already have seen a couple of wideouts stiff-arm away defensive backs in preseason games to make big catches.

Passing numbers should go up this season. Young Justin Fields will be judged accordingly.

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