Fortune favors the bold.
In calling his shot forecasting a breakout passing game for Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, ESPN’s Dan Graziano — while admitting his prediction is a Hail Mary toss in its own right — pumps the brakes on some of the negative narrative surrounding QB1.
From the article (bold emphasis mine):
“This one is a real long shot, given the fact that the Bears looked scared to let Fields throw the ball at all Sunday night in Lambeau Field. But they have to do something to get a passing game going, and the game against Houston, which has allowed the seventh-most passing yards through two weeks in spite of playing a couple of low-scoring games, could offer them their best opportunity yet. Talking to people around the team, everything I hear about Fields is positive. So I don’t get the sense the reason for the conservative game-planning is about doubting Fields. At some point, he’s going to have to start throwing.”
There has been some chatter about the Bears’ conservative play-calling is a direct result of not trusting Fields. And it’s not just the 11 drop backs (or 19 pass plays if you consider sacks, scrambles, and plays waved off due to penalties). It’s also a 23.1% first-down pass-rate that ranks dead last in the NFL *AND* significantly lower than the 54.1% it was at when the 2021 season came to an end. Wasn’t hiring Luke Getsy supposed to take the Bears offense away from the dark past?
In the end, here is how I’m choosing to read Graziano’s assessment: Are the Bears panicking? Hardly. And why should they be? Two games does not a season make. Plus, after not doing much heavy lifting in terms of building an offensive line and receiving corps around Fields, it would be wholly unfair to to give up on him after two games when the offseason of messaging was essentially screaming “he’s our guy despite all of the stuff we aren’t doing” from the top of Sears Tower. But are the Bears concerned? Sure, a little bit to some extent. And why wouldn’t they be? Fields is off to a slow start. There were plays to be made on Sunday and they weren’t made (for whatever reason). Pressure will ramp up eventually, as it comes with the territory. But it’s too early to go into panic mode.
As Graziano puts it, Fields has to start slinging it at some point. What better time than against this Texans defense? And if that goes awry, then *tugs nervously at collar* we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.