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Justin Fields is Now the Best Quarterback in the World

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football, but the loss, itself, wasn’t the story for me. It wasn’t the 12 penalties that hurt the Bears down the stretch or the validity of those penalties, either. Instead, the story on Monday night was all about Justin Fields, who took another big step in his development against the Steelers, regardless of the outcome.

Start number seven was the best one yet for Fields, who checks in this morning as Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded quarterback in Week 9.

Fields completed 17-of-29 passes for 291 yards, a touchdown, and an interception through the air while rushing for 45 yards on eight attempts. But the box score doesn’t really do it justice. It doesn’t accurately depict the true impressiveness that we saw with our eyes last night, which is the purpose of the PFF grading system, to analyze player performance outside of the traditional box score.

Next-Gen Stats illustrates where the bulk of Justin Fields’ production came from on Monday night. And you might recognize it as a place Bears fans have searched for success at the quarterback position for decades: the deep ball.

Nine of Fields’ 17 completions came on passes 10 or more air yards, accounting for 225 of his 291 yards on the night. Fields averaged 15.7 air yards per attempt, and his lone interception was a mental gaffe in which we threw the ball right into the outstretched hands of a defensive lineman rushing him in the first quarter. Fields’ 15.7 air yards per attempt were the second-most by any quarterback in a game this season, and his seven completions of 15 yards or more are tied for the most by any Bears quarterback in the last 15 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Let’s take a look at some of Fields’ best connections on Monday night.

•   Fields hits Marquise Goodwin DEEP down the sideline early in the third quarter on a ball that traveled 52 yards in the air. Fifty-two yards of air distance dropped in between the coverage. Was it a tad behind Goodwin, yes, but it was a 52-yarder, so, who cares?

•   Fields drills Jimmy Graham deep over the middle on the first play of the fourth quarter.

•   Darnell Mooney and Matt Nagy both said last night after the game that Fields was cool as a cucumber the entire night and never wavered in his message in the huddle that the Bears were going to score, and going to win. It was said that he had a smile on his face on the sideline before the drive in which the Bears took the lead, almost as if he wanted it to be that way. He answered the call in a big way. Here’s a fade by Allen Robinson where Fields nails Robinson in stride, allowing Robinson to pick up yards after the catch.

•   Setting up this beauty for the lead.

•   Fields is under pressure, extends the play by getting out of the pocket, throws cross-body, and drills Darnell Mooney with an absolute dime in the end zone. Picture perfect.

The Bears may have lost the game on Monday night, but Justin Fields won the night when it comes to the big picture for Chicago’s future under center.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.