The Stats Won't Show It, But Justin Fields Made a Little Progress in Week 4

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The Stats Won’t Show It, But Justin Fields Made a Little Progress in Week 4

Chicago Bears

All things considered, I thought Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields played well enough on Sunday.

I don’t love that I’m using qualifiers like this 14 starts into his professional career. But after the way things shook out last year — when Fields was essentially identified as more of a work-in-progress QB than anything else — I had a feeling that we’d go through stretches where we would be evaluating while using caveats here, there, and everywhere.

So what does progress look like when the stat line looks like this: 11/22, 174 yards, 6 sacks, 76.7 passer rating?

It begins with Fields playing confidently and with composure. The word “competent” was seemingly thrown in every conversation I had in trying to piece together a well-rounded assessment of Fields’ Week 4 performance. Playing with confidence, competence, and composure are teeny-tiny steps. But steps in the right direction nonetheless.

Perhaps the most important steps came when Fields was using his arm. As a rusher, Fields has been great. There’s been no complaints from Fields in that department (unless you want to take issue with how his slides are apparently magnets for defenders to deliver late hits). But his passing prowess has left so much to be desired. However, Fields ripping a few throws with conviction was a most important thing to come from Sunday’s game. Especially since we hadn’t seen much of it from Fields in the early going.

Visually, this is the best Fields has looked all year:

Whether it was a result of certain play calls or him beginning to get comfortable in his re-worked mechanics, it was good to see him plant, cock back, and let ‘er rip.

When we were discussing Luke Getsy building an offense fitting Fields’ skills set, the examples in the video above are precisely what I was envisioning. Both at Ohio State and with the Bears, Fields has been effective and efficient as a play action passer. And these deep drops out of play action help an already good deep ball play up. Want to see better numbers? Perhaps incorporate more of these concepts.

Even with the further implementation of these concepts, there is a limit to Fields’ statistical upside because of the talent around him.

The Bears’ placement on this graph via PFF’s Brad Spielberger tells a story of a chef cooking with whack ingredients:

Again, Fields playing well comes with a bunch of caveats riding alongside. Fields can look good, as he has raw talent, loud tools, and eye-opening athleticism. But there are going to be times in which the weaponry and talent around him suppresses what he can be. There is only so much a quarterback can’t do when linemen allow a high number of pressures and receivers aren’t getting open.

It’s almost as if people who had concerns about the team-building process in the offseason weren’t totally off base.

(Sidebar: It might’ve taken notable free agent overpays to help land the Jaguars in their spot on that chart. And they might’ve taken some public dragging because of it. But the results suggest the juice was worth the squeeze. Same for the Eagles, who poured in all sorts of resources to upgrade their line and receiver options. Who knew investing in building around a quarterback could have such a payoff!?)

I hope to one day soon write about Fields’ growth without having to qualify it so heavily. But if quarterback development is a process that requires patience, then writing about it requires it, too.

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.