Despite his spectacular flashes as a runner and mobile playmaker over his first two-plus seasons — Fields rushed for 1,143 yards in 2022, averaging an NFL-best 7.1 yards per carry — the 24-year-old has not developed into a credible passer with the capacity to win from the pocket or as a movement thrower on the perimeter. While there is still time for the third-year pro’s refinement to catch up with his elite physical tools, the clock is ticking — FAST — on Fields to show enough promise to convince the Bears that he is worthy of a commitment beyond his rookie contract. After all, this is a team that is currently in the middle of a 12-game losing streak going back to last season, with Fields having started 10 of those games. The disastrous skid is the longest losing streak in franchise history and symbolizes the futility of a proud franchise.
Moreover, the string of losses puts Fields’ talent, upside and long-term potential under the microscope, as observers attempt to determine whether Chicago should cut its losses and look to find its next quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft, which could be loaded with enticing signal-callers. Don’t forget: Current general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus didn’t draft Fields; they inherited him from the previous regime.
Seeing Mahomes having a blast is making Gabbert have a blast.
Now Gabbert is smiling and laughing.
“Super fun,” Gabbert says. “Super fun for me to be out there and for me to be in that room. This great game gives us a lot of happiness.”
Others who have traveled similar paths did not feel what Gabbert feels. They felt bitterness, anger and disillusionment. Some wanted to cut ties and start a new life in anonymity.
But one thing we’ve learned in Chicago is that you can’t win in the NFL without a quarterback. Some fans still may stick to the argument that the Bears ruined Mitch Trubisky. And while no one should argue that Nagy and the franchise couldn’t have done more to help Trubisky, I think it’s pretty clear at this point that Trubisky was never going to be an asset at the quarterback position, he was never going to be more than a game manager that needed significant help around him to have any level of success.
The one thing that Nagy was good at, and was one of the reasons I supported him more than most, is that he was a pretty good CEO head coach. He ran the ship pretty well. And for the most part, most of the players had his back throughout his tenure. Many fans wanted to claim that Nagy “lost the locker room,” but the truth is that rarely happens and it didn’t happen with Nagy’s Bears. It absolutely happened in 2014 with Marc Trestman, but it takes a lot for an entire locker room to lose all respect for the man in charge.
Nagy and Ryan Pace failed together. They failed not to pivot as a team after the 2019 season. At the end of 2019, everyone knew that Trubisky wasn’t going to succeed at this level. Pace and Nagy needed to sit down with George McCaskey and tell them they needed to fully pivot off their current QB situation, but they didn’t. Was that Nagy’s decision? From what we hear about how he felt about Mitch, probably not. Was it Pace’s? Most likely. We know Pace rarely admitted his mistakes and would he be willing to admit his biggest one after three seasons? Had the two of them fully regrouped at QB, perhaps things would have ended differently for them, but we know they chose some level of compromise and kept Mitch and paired him with Nick Foles in an open competition that was doomed from the start.
Bears at Chiefs
“Justin Fields and Co. could regroup and come out fighting, or things could get worse under Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy. I think Sunday is going to be more of a celebration for Chiefs fans as they welcome the returns of Travis Kelce and Chris Jones, who both missed the season opener. On the subject of Fields, he definitely has an internal clock issue and is not throwing to open wide receivers. But on top of that, his offensive line hasn’t been consistent and left tackle Braxton Jones just got placed on injured reserve. I think the biggest problem, however, is how Fields is being used. ... (He) isn’t polished and certainly has some work to do, but in my opinion, saying he’s the problem is a lazy take. Either way, I don’t want to back the Bears right now.”
Stat to know: Since the start of last season, 54% of the Chiefs’ receiving yards have come after the catch, the highest rate in the league. The Bears rank 31st in opponent YAC per reception over the same span.
Matchup X factor: Bears backup left tackle Larry Borom, assuming he gets the call to replace the injured Braxton Jones. Jones’ 97% pass block win rate ranked third among tackles, so Borom has impressive shoes to fill. — Walder
What to know for fantasy: Justin Fields has been sacked on 11.5% of his dropbacks since entering the league. Fields has taken 10 sacks so far this season despite having the fifth-highest average time to throw. Don’t overlook the Chiefs if you’re looking for a streamable defense.
Around the NFL
The Chicago Bears announced Friday that $100,000 in equipment was stolen from Soldier Field this week.
According to ABC7 in Chicago, a Soldier Field manager and staff members said one or more burglars tore down a security fence overnight Wednesday and drove multiple pieces of equipment out of a garage, including gators and lawn mowers.
To that end, the Niners announced multiyear contract extensions for Shanahan and Lynch on Friday. The deals come on the heels of San Francisco’s 30-12 win against the New York Giants on Thursday night that improved the Niners to 3-0 on the season, the team’s second such start in the past four years.
Shanahan and Lynch arrived in San Francisco together in 2017, signing matching six-year contracts to take on their respective roles for the first time. After a down-to-the-studs rebuild the first couple of years, the Niners have become one of the league’s most consistently successful teams.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
“Everyone has opinions on what the state of Chicago is right now with their offense and defense and all those things, but they’re an NFL-caliber team,” said Reid.
Entering this Week 3 matchup, Chicago ranks 27th in total yards (547), yards per game (273.5) and yards per play (4.5).
“They earn their paychecks too,” he continued. “They’re going to be highly motivated to come in and play us… everybody is.
“We got a good challenge in front of us, they got a strong run game, pullers all over the board, a very athletic quarterback who could run all over the schoolyard… So we’re going to take this game as seriously as we took the first two games.”
The matchup appears to be a mismatch on paper, with Kansas City’s defense ranking third overall in points per game allowed.
A tweet to make you think
The #Chiefs defense will be facing Justin Fields on Sunday, who may be looking to use his legs more in KC— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) September 22, 2023
Chicago has not been able to get Fields going as a designed runner, but his scrambling still popped v GB
KC pass rushers/blitzers will need discipline in their rush paths pic.twitter.com/7zXGluw5lj