It’s one thing to come here and read about how good Justin Fields has been the past few months. It’s another to see real NFL players taking to their social media platforms to tell you how good of a player Justin Fields is.
Eagles cornerback Darius Slay — a four-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro defensive back — was the latest Bears opponent to be wowed by Fields. After seeing Fields in person on Sunday, a game that the Eagles got quite the challenge from the Bears in, Slay took to his podcast Big Play Slay to talk about and break down a play that left the Eagles defense in awe of Fields’ talent:
(Luis: Hook that 2 minute, 20 second clip directly to my veins please and thank you!)
By the Numbers
- 23: That’s the number of total touchdowns that Fields has this season after adding two through the air on Sunday. He was a big toe away from a rushing touchdown that would have moved that number to 24. Fields had nine total touchdowns last season. He’s already more than doubled his passing touchdowns from last season and quadrupled his rushing touchdowns.
- 0: A big old goose egg in the interception column on Sunday.
- 119.5: Fields’ 119.5 passer rating against the Eagles was the second-best mark of his career, behind a 120.0 passer rating against the Dallas Cowboys earlier this season. And it was the fifth time in the last six games Fields put up a passer rating higher than 84.
- 6: After allowing just seven sacks combined in the previous three games, the Bears offensive line allowed Fields to be sacked six times. The six sacks Fields took on Sunday are tied for the most in any game this season (Week 4 vs. NYG). They are also the second most in any game in his career, (behind only last year’s nine-sack disaster against the Browns).
- 207: Rushing yards Fields needs to gain in the Bears final three games to break Lamar Jackson’s all-time single-season rushing record for a quarterback. Fields picked up 95 yards on Sunday to break Bobby Douglass’ franchise record and became just the third QB in NFL history to rack up 1,000 or more rushing yards in a season. If Fields can rush for 69 yards per contest down the stretch, he’ll break the record. And he’s going for it!
Let’s start with a positive.
Fields and the Bears are in the shotgun on a 3rd-and-10 on the game’s opening drive. QB1 finds Equanimeous St. Brown for a 20-yard completion and a first down. Fields gets a high snap, drops back, and scans, and the ball is out of his hands in three seconds to ESB.
Simple stuff but important stuff moving forward:
Another simple plus for Fields on Sunday was this 2nd-and-8 completion to Cole Kmet.
Kmet releases from his block and is open. Fields sees it and delivers it for a completion that would have been a chunk play if Kmet had gotten away from the chasing defender.
Again, it’s another simple (yet important) throw and read for Fields:
I’ve got one more from the first quarter. But this one was one of the few minuses Fields had through the air on the day.
On 4th-and-2, Fields throws a bad ball to Dante Pettis ahead of the sticks. It’s a wobbler, and it’s behind Pettis.
Full stop: that’s a must-make throw for Fields in the future:
I’ve been trying to leave a lot of the Fields rushing highlights out of this space lately, because, well, we know that he can do that as well as anyone in the league.
But sticking with the overall theme at this point in the season of Fields doing things he’s good at even better and smarter warrants a mention of the decision to take what he had and slide to avoid an unnecessary hit on this run is warranted.
We’ve been asking for this and would like to see more. So, that’s a double plus in my book:
All right, back to the passing game.
Fields makes one of my favorite plays of the game on that same drive. Here, he finds David Montgomery for a 22-yard gain on a broken play. Fields avoids trouble, escapes, reads, and hits the check down for a chunk play:
By now, you’re fully aware of the theme this week: Fields making the correct read and a good throw on what we would consider the simple plays that great quarterbacks should make. That’s another one that fills that bucket and gets a plus today.
I could throw in the clip of the Fields touchdown pass to Montgomery in the third quarter. Or even the scramble drill TD to Byron Pringle in the fourth that left Slay in awe of Fields’ skills. But you get the idea at this point.
We’ve seen Justin Fields’ development take place in phases this season. First, the struggles were glaring and noticeable on film during the first six weeks of the season. The missed downfield reads, holding the ball too long, locking onto the first read, and things of that nature.
As we watched the offensive game plan evolve toward more designed runs and an increased focus on the running game, we saw a decline in those mistakes. Fields playing more comfortably within his skillset was evident after the game-plan shift.
Then we went through the phase where he was called a running back because he was running the plays that were called — to a record-setting success, nonetheless. Still, there was plenty of room to improve as a pure passer.
Now in the season’s final leg, we’re seeing Fields tie the two phases together. He’s still making the electrifying runs. But now he is checking off some of those pure passer boxes. Fields is getting the ball out quicker, seeing the whole field, and going through his progressions. There is still work to be done for Fields. But this is shaping up to be quite the transformative season for him in all phases of the game.
And his peers and competitors are taking note of what’s on the horizon for the Bears quarterback.