We’ll dive into the nitty gritty of Justin Fields’ performance against the Packers in due time. But let’s be honest with each other. Going into the game, the most important thing that could come out of Sunday was a healthy Fields. And fortunately, that’s what we got.
“Shoulder held up pretty good,” Fields said, via NBC Sports Chicago’s Alex Shapiro. “On (David Montgomery’s) touchdown, I had to like push Kenny Clark down, so that’s the only play it got aggravated on.”
All in all, that Fields references a play in the second quarter that “aggravated” the shoulder issue and still played through it feels like an important nugget moving forward. Because while I understand the concerns of Fields rushing back from an injury that kept him out of game action a week ago, those concerns should’ve been silenced with how Fields played against the Packers. He played (and well!) against a rival. And he did so while not compromising his game (for the most part). Moreover, if you take everything into consideration for the sake of the discussion, I’d argue that Sunday’s game against the Packers was Fields’ best as a passer.
There was a sprinkling of everyting. Fields was using his mobility to create big plays, then taking deep shots when the opportunities were presenting themselves. But he was also taking short and intermediate routes when they were open. C’mon, you don’t complete 80 percent of your passes if you’re just chucking it downfield and hoping for the best. And he didn’t take any sacks. Oh, and Green Bay defenders came away with just two QB Hits on Fields. Part of that is a testament to the offensive line for their efforts. But also, some of it can be credited to Fields processing quickly and not taking too many risks by holding onto the ball for too long.
All in all, it was a good day at the office for Fields. And at this point, the trends are undeniable. He is good:
- Even with those red dots, this throw chart looks nice:
- Your favorite running back could never have a throw chart like that, so cram it.
- Fields since the mini-bye: 93/138 (67.4%), 1,027 passing yards, 9 TD, 5 INT, 95.9 rating; 74 carries, 623 rush yards, 7 TD.
- A reminder that Fields’ growth as a passer isn’t some overnight sensation:
- I laugh at the idea that Fields felt he was a little “slow” on this run:
- Prorate those stats over 17 games, they come out to 264/391, 2,910 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 14 interceptions; 210 carries, 1,765 rushing yards, 20 TD. That’s fun, no?
- OK, fine. We’ll extrapolate the season-long stats over 17 games: 221/358 (61.7%), 2,686 pass yards, 18 TD, 14 INT; 181 carries, 1,282 rushing yards, 11 TD. Not bad for a Year 2 QB. It’s a sign of clear growth.
- Some guys are just built different. And those guys, like Fields, tend to do things no one has ever seen before:
- Or even seen in a long time! If you can do something on the football field that puts you in the same sentence as Gale Sayers, you’re doing something right:
- Fields’ 90.6 QBR (ESPN’s quarterback-grading metric, which we’ve discussed previously in this space) was the best among NFL quarterbacks in Week 13 (not including whatever happens on MNF).
- Presented without comment:
- As of today, Fields’ 72.8 grade from Pro Football Focus is the 14th best in football. That 92.0 run grade is PFF’s third-highest grade and is doing a ton of work in lifting the overall grade. Even still … it’s nice to see Fields’ arrow pointing up. And it’s an added bonus that his grade is higher than the likes of Kirk Cousins (72.7), Dak Prescott (71.7), and Trevor Lawrence (70.0).
There is no denying Fields still needs work. He isn’t a finished product. But the arrow is pointing up. And while I’m sure Fields will take some time to iron out some kinks during the bye, I’d argue that no one on the Bears deserves the downtime more than him based on the in-season strides he’s made. Fields is looking good. And feeling good (and healthy, too). It’s what matters most now as we head down the stretch.