Justin Fields wowed on his debut for the Chicago Bears, but it’s important to have a level-headed perspective on his performance.
The Justin Fields hype train will be gathering steam after his exciting preseason debut for the Chicago Bears.
Following a shaky start, Fields excelled, albeit largely against backups, in the Bears’ exhibition opener with the Miami Dolphins. He finished 14 of 20 throwing for 142 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 33 yards and another score on five attempts.
Calls for Fields to be the starting quarterback Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams will only grow following his display against Miami, but it is important not to get too carried away after one game that is not a fair reflection of what this year’s 11th overall pick will experience in the regular season.
With that in mind, here we look at three level-headed takeaways from Fields’ preseason bow.
Fields has the poise to make the grade
Even when things were not going well for Fields during his first few series, what stood out from the jump was the composure the former Ohio State star demonstrated.
He was undaunted by the pocket breaking down around him or by being backed up in his own endzone, with Fields keeping his eyes downfield and showing the awareness to know when to escape the pocket to extend the play.
His poise was rewarded late in the first half when he led a quick and decisive drive in the final minute of the second quarter to set up a field goal from Chicago.
Fields carried the momentum from that strong end to the first half into the second, when his aforementioned mobility came to the fore.
Athleticism could decide QB battle
Though the Bears have insisted to this point that Andy Dalton is the starter, head coach Matt Nagy got another first-hand example of the upside Fields brings with his superior athleticism.
He made several throws across his body while on the run and scored the Bears’ first touchdown by escaping pressure, scrambling to his left and then finding the endzone.
Fields’ touchdown throw, where he hit tight end Jesse James on a leak route after rolling out to his right and throwing back across to the left side, was one that he can execute at a higher level than Dalton because of his mobility.
It is understandable that Nagy does not want to rush Fields and throw him into the fire before he is ready. However, Nagy is also a head coach whose job can be considered in severe jeopardy going into the season. The edge that Fields gives the Bears offense with his athleticism could convince Nagy that the rookie is the better bet to help Chicago win now and save his job.
Fields needs more time against starters
Though Fields was undoubtedly impressive, most of his best moments came in the second half when the Dolphins had withdrawn their starters.
If Nagy is to make an informed decision on whether to stick with his original plan of going with Dalton over Fields, then he will need to see the latter play extended time against opposing first-string defenses.
He has only two more exhibition games to get Fields that playing time, meaning he will have some interesting choices to make about how he splits the reps between his top two quarterbacks against both the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans.
The latter is likely to be the dress rehearsal for the regular season and, after his efforts versus Miami, Fields has at least made a stronger case for being the first quarterback on the field when the Bears round off their exhibition schedule.