Schrock: Don’t blame Justin Fields for terrible Bears offense appeared first on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Four weeks into the 2022 NFL season, all the talk of a Year 2 jump for Bears quarterback Justin Fields has evaporated.
The Bears’ death attack was particularly formidable early on.
It was so bad that Fields’ 11 completions and 174 yards Sunday against the New York Giants were the two wins of the season. There were little flashes, and I mean, from the sophomore signal caller. A bullet throw here, a scramble there.
But overall, Fields was one of the NFL’s worst quarterbacks through 16 quarters, and the Bears’ passing attack wouldn’t scare a freshman high school team right now.
It’s easy to blame the Bears’ offensive struggles and Fields’ poor play at quarterback. It is the toughest situation in team sports and the easiest to review. You see the receivers coming open on your couch and think, ‘well he just has to hit that’.
You’re not wrong if you saw that Fields didn’t hit a wide open Darnell Mooney down the seam against the Giants and thought he should have delivered a strike for six. It should be.
Fields is not playing well right now. He knows that. The Bears know it too.
But while it’s easy to lay the blame for a disappointing, borderline-sounding Year 2 at Fields’ feet, I’m here to tell you there’s plenty of finger-pointing to be done.
“I think we have to be more consistent,” Fields said after the loss to the Giants. “Whether it’s me, whether it’s O-line, whether it’s the receivers. Some plays, we’re all on the same page, we all execute great, and then some plays, we don’t us. The biggest thing with that, you know, it’s just consistency.”
He is right. The buck may stop with the man in the middle, but everyone deserves the blame in this rapidly devolving situation.
We knew the offensive line and the receivers were going to be a concern after the Bears completed their free agency moves. It was catching up with Fields and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s scheme to elevate everyone around the young quarterback.
So far, no one is pulling their weight.
Let the offensive line begin.
Fields was pressured on 49 of 100 dropbacks through four games, per Pro Football Focus. Forty nine percent.
There are maybe four quarterbacks on the planet who could survive and thrive under pressure on half of their dropbacks.
Fields is completing 63 percent of his passes for 7.6 yards per attempt when given a clean pocket this season. However, Fields completes just 23 percent of his passes for 5.8 yards per completion when pressured.
Fields, when given protection, proved to be the quarterback many believed he was coming out of Ohio State. The problem is that there aren’t many opportunities. We’re talking once or twice a game. At best.
According to PFF, Fields faced the most pressure dropbacks this season and had the fewest dropbacks when a receiver was deemed open or wide open.
That’s a recipe for disaster for a young quarterback.
On Sunday, center Sam Mustipher hit seven home runs. The Giants’ defensive tackles Mustipher, Lucas Patrick, Cody Whitehair, and Teven Jenkins had eight pressures.
We haven’t even discussed the issues to be tackled.
What is Fields supposed to do if he is running for his life on half of his dropbacks?
On the rare occasion that Fields has a clean pocket, his receivers often don’t separate or run the wrong way.
Mooney admitted Monday that he ran the wrong way on third-and-7 in the red zone. Fields ended up drifting to his left and throwing out of the back of the end zone toward Dante Pettis.
“We probably called like one or two pass plays down there, and I messed up one of them,” Mooney said of the Bears’ running game that contributed to an 0-for-3 day in the red zone. “So the play didn’t work out as well. It was similar to the one where Cole was [Kmet] was to the apartment on the left.
“I’m like the second choice, or the first or the second choice. It’s (more) how he reads it. It was kind of just things like that. Missed assignments and things.”
Then there was a critical third-down play in the second half when Fields threw a strike to a well-covered Pettis, but the receiver couldn’t come down with the pass. That play was a great example of the Bears’ need for a true X-receiver, a big body who can go up and make contested catches to move the chains for Fields.
Even if you look past the shoddy defense, the receivers who don’t separate and run the right routes and don’t make contested catches, for the most part, you still get a mediocre offensive game plan from Getsy and one. coach Matt Eberflus.
Entering Sunday, the Bears ran 21 plays in the red zone and had just two passes. On Sunday, they ran nine plays in the red zone and had only four passes. The play calling lacked creativity and couldn’t find a way to highlight Fields’ strengths while mitigating the Bears’ weaknesses.
Wasn’t that supposed to be the point of hiring Getsy?
That brings us to general manager Ryan Poles.
Yes, he inherited one of the worst cap situations in the NFL. Almost all of his moves are justifiable and make sense for the long-term health of the rebuilding Bears.
But for the Poles not being able to deal with a veteran left early in the free agency process and a reliable veteran target is quite unacceptable.
If the Poles had accepted without Fields in the picture, then it would have been understandable to put all his eggs in the basket of a fifth-round rookie left tackle and a second-year fifth-rounder. But how can you expect Fields to develop and show growth if he’s pressured against half the backups? How do you assess his future with the franchise if he has no one to throw to and if he’s not watching his throws because he’s under constant pressure?
There is no reason to give up on Justin Fields. The talent is still there. The big arm, the athleticism, the high football IQ. All the ingredients for an elite quarterback.
But Fields landed in dire straits and the new regime did little to help him. If you don’t count on publicly expressing support and belief in him before taking three halftimes against the Texans to help his growth.
Fields should be blamed for the Bears’ offensive struggles. He is the quarterback. The buck stops with him.
But when you’re blaming Fields’ poor play and the Bears’ ineffective offense, look no further than the 23-year-old who was dealt the worst hand of any quarterback in the 2021 class. the quarterback who was given no help by a front office that didn’t draft him and his team seems to lack confidence in his ability.
Everyone deserves some of the blame for what is going on. There is more than enough to go around.
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