The Chicago Bears have their QB1, Justin Fields, back in the mix for today’s game against the Detroit Lions.
But now, the evaluation period to help figure out for how long Fields will be Chicago’s franchise quarterback begins again.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport lays out what is on the line for Fields in his return to the starting lineup after missing four games with a dislocated thumb. And while Bears fans didn’t need to be reminded of what is at stake over the next seven games, Rapoport provides sourced perspective from a national angle with this morning hit on NFL Network:
“The Chicago Bears get their starting quarterback back. Justin Fields officially back. Full go after missing four games with a dislocated thumb. Which means the evaluation starts now for Fields. Is he the franchise guy? Of course, we know the Bears are expected to have a high pick in the draft, likely the Carolina Panthers pick. My understanding: They’d have to be blown away by a potential quarterback to pick him high. They will weigh that evaluation against Fields. What they want to see: Consistency, they want to see him play well in two-minute and red zone, and limit the turnovers.”
There is more in this article from Rapoport, who offers up the paths the Bears can take moving forward. Will they pick up his fifth-year option? What about considering a long-term, high-price extension? Would they try to trade Fields and pivot to a quarterback in the draft? This is bigger than just trying to figure out if the Bears are set to move forward with Justin Fields as their franchise quarterback. This onion has a bunch of layers to peel back between now, the end of the season, and before the NFL Draft kicks off in April.
Again, this isn’t anything we haven’t already heard from the Bears. And if this feels like you’ve seen this film before, it might be because GM Ryan Poles shared these sentiments last January when he had the No. 1 pick and could’ve chosen between keeping Fields or taking Ohio State’s CJ Stroud or Alabama’s Bryce Young. It also lines up with what Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus told reporters earlier in the week when laying out what he wants to see from Fields in the final seven games of the regular season. But in case you missed that or need a refresher, just know that I’ve got you covered.
“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.”
Justin Fields and the Bears’ evaluation process begins again
Trying to evaluate a quarterback’s long-term future in seven games is arguably a good problem to have. If Fields plays well, then you can use two potential top-10 picks to build around him moving forward. And if he doesn’t, it makes it easier to pull the plug on a quarterback that this regime didn’t draft in the first place. In the end, everyone benefits from Fields playing well. So that is what I’ll be rooting for down the stretch.
Since the Bears are in a mood to use Rap Sheet as a vessel to share what they want from Fields, I’ll use this as mine.
I want to see seven games of Justin Fields doing to opponents what he did to the Broncos and Commanders in Weeks 4 and 5. Deep passing. Throws across the middle. Throws all over the field. Left. Right. Flag patterns. Fly routes. Posts. Slants. Give it all to me. Feel frisky enough to toss in some designed runs. If Fields can replicate that magic with any consistency, then the Bears will have their answer regarding their quarterbacking situation moving forward.
Then again, they’ll also have an answer if he can’t. So, one way or another, we’ll come to find out if JF1 will be QB1 for the foreseeable future based on his play down the stretch. Strap in those seatbelts, folks. This is going to be a whale of a ride.