The NFL Knows America Wants to See More Justin Fields
The NFL wasted no time in putting the Bears and Packers in front of as many eyes as possible. Placing Chicago-Green Bay in Week 1 during the prime-afternoon slot at 3:25 p.m. CT that is generally reserved for FOX’s “America’s Game of the Week” broadcast speaks volumes to what league schedule-makers believe about what this early-season matchup can bring.
And to think, this might be just the beginning of us seeing the Bears in primetime.
In an appearance on Peter Schrager’s podcast, Mike North — who serves as the NFL’s Vice President of Broadcast Planning — was discussing what goes into piecing together and rolling out the schedule. Part of the conversation between North and Schrager circles around what time might pop up in primetime more than you might otherwise expect. Eventually, North offers up our favorite team (bold emphasis mine):
I’ll give you one. Because it’s maybe not necessarily indicative of their record from last year. I’ll go with the Chicago Bears. The fact that they were a three-win team last year generally means you’re headed for a lot of Sunday noon starts. But in that division now, maybe a little more wide open than in the past. They got a haul from the draft pick trade. And what do any of us know, but we keep hearing that Justin Fields looks better than ever and he was nothing if not exciting last year when we watched him.
So if somebody were going to look at this year’s schedule and be like “who would surprise us that they’re all in on?” I’m sure somebody somewhere is going to say “Wow, that seems like they sure think the Bears are going to be good.” And yeah, I kinda hope they are.
Wow! The NFL pushing some of its chips to the middle of the table and preparing to bet on the Bears isn’t what I was expecting. Especially not after a 3-win season that led them to close the year as owners of the top pick. Although, I can’t say I blame the league for doing so.
Because even in their least-competitive years, Chicago’s football team is a draw. For better or worse, there is always a storyline (oftentimes, there are a bunch of them) that will draw the attention of a national audience. Hence, we’ve been getting a steady flow of Bears games in primetime. Even the bad news Bears are have been featured aplenty in primetime. For instance, last year’s team was on Sunday Night Football (Week 2 at Green Bay), Thursday Night Football (Week 6 vs. Washington), and Monday Night Football (Week 7 at New England). All three games were competitive. Frustrating, at times, to be sure. But memorable for one reason or another.
For example, I’ll never forget that Pats win on Monday Night Football. For so many reasons, too. From it being The Justin Fields Game, to Matt Eberflus serving Bill Belichick his lunch on Monday Night Football, to the positive post-game vibes. That night had everything. Maybe there are more nights like that in our future. The NFL seems willing to gamble on the chance that the Bears will be delivering an entertaining product. And I think I’m willing to roll that dice, too.
And, c’mon … who doesn’t want more Justin Fields!?
Chicago’s QB1 was a one-man show last year. With all due respect to the other 52 players on the game-day roster, Fields was dragging that team to unexpectedly competitive games against teams they had no business being in down the stretch. The offense looked competent in its worst moments and dizzyingly fun at its best. And after an offseason of upgrades, it makes sense for the NFL to want to put more eyes on a player whose stock is on the rise. I’m here for it. So is the NFL.
For more from Schrager’s podcast, check out the link below: