Hoo boy, seeing Justin Fields clock in among the NFL’s top 100 players (as chosen by the league’s players) has gotten some wild responses. Particularly when noting that Fields came in ahead of Trevor Lawrence.
But for what it’s worth, one NFL analyst doesn’t seem to think ranking Fields ahead of Lawrence is as ridiculous as some might think. And that analyst happens to be Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson. The Justin Fields haters club isn’t going to want to hear this:
This is a bit of an interesting perspective from Tomlinson. He isn’t wrong. There is no denying Trevor Lawrence can’t do with his legs what Justin Fields can. Now, this isn’t to say Lawrence can’t run. We’ve seen him do it with some effectiveness at the collegiate and pro levels. So I wouldn’t dare describe Lawrence as not being mobile. HOWEVER, Justin Fields’ ability to create huge chunk plays with his legs and throw on the run are game-changing tools in his bag. Think of it in golf terms. Both guys have drivers, but when Fields takes it out of his bag the usage and results are on another level.
But the thing that gets me here is Tomlinson’s assertion that Justin Fields can throw like Trevor Lawrence. That is quite the claim. One that I hope Fields can prove on Sundays starting this September.
Last year, we saw Lawrence complete 66 percent of his passes, throw for 4,113 yards, more than double his touchdowns thrown, and cut his interception total by more than half from Year 1 to Year 2. It was a significant improvement from what we saw from Lawrence after his rookie season. If you’ll recall, Lawrence’s disappointing campaign had him completing just 59.6% of his passes and throwing more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (12). But a change in environment, hiring of a new coaching staff, and addition of pass catchers who could actually catch helped boost Lawrence’s second-year stats. Plus, it helped the Jaguars land a spot in the playoffs last year.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because you’re wanting Justin Fields and the Bears to do something similar. And no matter what naysayers might suggest, it’s totally plausible:
This is fun to think about. In part because I suppose Fields can make similar claims to Lawrence when it comes to second-year improvement. It’s just that the Bears not making the playoffs and Fields’ progress being more modest doesn’t lend itself to big narrative stories. Remember, Fields was able to double his touchdown throws (going from 7 to 14) and slightly improve his completion percentage. However, the interceptions stayed level. That’ll need to come down if Fields is to reach Lawrence’s status as a passer. Still, I don’t think it is all that wild to think Fields can do it. We saw him make significant in-season adjustments that saw his pass TDs rise and INTs fall. This is totally doable. It’ll take some work, but I’m here to see how it plays out.
To be clear, I don’t want to get too deep in the weeds here. Mostly because I want to be able to enjoy both quarterbacks grow, develop, and shine. From purely an aesthetic point of view, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are two of the most enjoyable quarterbacks to watch. If you were a neutral football fan, you’d clear your schedule to keep tabs on them on any given Sunday. Hopefully, we can be treated to a high-scoring affair by the time they meet (Jacksonville is scheduled to come to Chicago in 2024) for a head-to-head showdown.