With the Chicago Bears angling to land the No. 1 overall pick (and possibly land USC’s Caleb Williams or North Carolina’s Drake Maye), every snap Justin Fields takes from now until the end of the year will be viewed under a microscope.
Because it is not enough for Fields just to be back. Fields needs to be back *AND* good. And I’m not even sure “good” is good enough.
Fields’ return to the starting lineup opens up a seven-game window during which he can prove he is worthy of being the Bears’ long-term solution at quarterback. And if you don’t think seven games is enough of a sample, then Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus would disagree with that assessment:
“I think seven weeks is enough time to show consistency and be the high performer that we expect him to be,” Eberflus said during his Wednesday press conference at Halas Hall. “I know he’s had some good performances this year. Certainly, the last few have been solid. We expect consistency out of all our positions.”
A week ago, I was begging for Coach Eberflus to be clear with his words and speak with conviction when relaying his message. Those are things he hadn’t been when discussing topics that required thoughtful or insightful responses to questions. But he was definitely both of those things when answering a question about whether Fields had enough time to prove that he could be The Guy moving forward for this franchise. And I am appreciative of this change of tone.
Matt Eberflus lays out what he wants from Justin Fields
Sometimes, parsing through the words of an Eberflus press conference can be painful. Finding words that create full sentences with meaning has been a challenge from time to time. But Eberflus made it clear what he is looking for from Fields over the next seven games. Consistency.
One word. Eleven letters. And yet, so much riding on it.
Eberflus and the Bears are looking for consistency out of Fields. Aren’t we all? The third-year quarterback should be displaying it by now. Instead, following Fields’ career has been kin to a roller coaster’s travels.
There have been highs. Beating Bill Belichick on MNF was awesome. So was watching Fields win Offensive Player of the Week and Ground Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks in 2022. This year, that breakout performance on Thursday Night Football with DJ Moore stands out.
But there have also been lows. A 1-5 start in 2023 raised concerns about Fields’ long-term future. In addition to the high volume of sacks he has taken, there are also questions about his processing. I’m not sure Fields can check every last box on the to-do list in seven games. But I do believe a seven-game sample down the stretch will be enlightening (one way or another).
If Fields can find consistency while performing at a high level from here on out, our conversations regarding the future of the quarterback position will be different than they were before today. But if he doesn’t, then the picture becomes clearer — both for Fields and the Chicago Bears franchise. And in the end, isn’t this what we, as Bears fans, were wanting all along?
I came into this year wanting to leave it with a definitive feeling regarding Fields’ future with the franchise. No middle ground. No “well, uh, maybe” vibes. No caveats. The singular thing I wanted the Bears to find out in 2023 was if Fields could be a QB1 worth building around. To this point, I can’t say the answer is a definitive yes. However, that doesn’t mean Fields can’t put enough on tape to make me change my mind. After all, that is why they play the games.
For more from Coach Eberflus, check out his Wednesday press conference here or below: