With Roquan Smith joining Robert Quinn as departing the Chicago Bears, the Bears could potentially lose seven or eight of the final nine games this season. They gave up 49 points with Roquan in the game on Sunday, so imagining a gutted defensive unit that could allow 30-plus points per game the rest of the way isn’t inconceivable.
The good news is Justin Fields has now strung together two of his best performances against the Patriots and the Cowboys, both coming on the road.
Once again, the stat line isn’t the sexiest. But after watching the condensed version of the game yesterday and the all-22 this morning, I’m feeling pretty good about Fields, and the biggest reason is one that you won’t necessarily see on the highlight reels: the game appears to be slowing down for him.
That’s the most crucial step Fields has begun to take in his development this season. And a big box he needed to check here in Yeae 2.
Fields did a little bit of everything on Sunday. Fields eclipsed the 150 passing yard mark for the fifth straight game, completed a season-high 73.9 percent of his passes, threw for two touchdowns and zero interceptions (that weren’t called back), and just looked much more comfortable. Throw in 60 yards and a score on the ground on eight rushes (7.5 yards per attempts), and we’re cooking under center right now.
There were less designed runs this week, which was something I wanted and saw coming. Here’s a nice design that resulted in a red zone touchdown to counter back-to-back touchdowns for Dallas.
I love Fields running the ball. And I love scheming plays that allow him to use his legs. But I think 7-9 rushing attempts is a sweet spot where we can balance maximizing Fields’ potential and keeping him from taking a bazillion hits.
I mentioned that Fields had no interceptions that weren’t called back. That qualifier is because a roughing the passer call on Chauncey Golston negated this overthrow by Fields that landed right in the hands of Trevon Diggs and would have cost the Bears a touchdown drive.
Look, he’s not going to be perfect, and he probably wants this throw back even though it didn’t count. Let’s move on.
The very next play, Fields drills N’Keal Harry for a touchdown pass, making that roughing the passer call so important.
Here’s a really nice concept and execution in the third quarter.
We’ve got a play action and a busted coverage that left Darnell Mooney wide open. Fields finds him and nails him in stride for a big chunk play. And that ultimately helped the Bears put together another touchdown drive.
I’ve spent weeks in this space begging Justin Fields to see open receivers and get them the ball. And in recent weeks, we’ve seen more and more of that happening. Yet another sign pointing to the fact that the game is slowing down for Fields and he is seeing it clearly.
Here we’ve got another solid play call and equally impressive execution by Fields. Khalil Herbert’s performance had the Cowboys on alert by this point in the game. A tight formation and fake to Herbert fools the corner and allows Cole Kmet to get wide open. And Fields throws a strike to his tight end for the touchdown.
Fields has plenty of work left to do. Some of that will follow the timeline that the front office has for getting him more legitimate weapons to target. But things are moving in the right direction at this point. And we’re seeing tangible development out of the sophomore signal caller.