Justin Fields is not a finished product.
Anyone who watched him over the duration of his rookie season knows that. The new GM and head coach and offensive coordinator know that. So why are so many in the national media – the Orlovsky and Tanier types – obsessing over the weapons surrounding him in his sophomore season? Why are they acting like all Fields needs is another receiver or two to reach the heights of the position?
It is pretty simple. First, they have no idea what is going on at Halas Hall because Halas Hall ain’t talking to anybody in the press these days. But second, and perhaps most importantly, it all comes down to an over-obsession with the NFL Draft. I saw a tweet the other day that sums up this over-obsession perfectly.
If Ryan Poles does not take a bargain basement swing at Denzel Mims… I may very well type and erase several tweets before sending them.
Mims’s ability to work the deep routes in an offense would be worth a small price to explore because of Justin Fields’s deep ball prowess. https://t.co/vin8s3kTX7
— EJ Snyder (@thedraftsmanFB) May 14, 2022
Here’s the thing about this tweet: it has no basis in the reality of professional football. Mims has been a disaster in New Jersey since he arrived. (Remember, I live here, and follow this stuff closely.) He’s not only shown no ability to “work the deep routes”, but he’s shown no ability to “work his way onto the actual field.” This tweet, and many like them, is based entirely on Mims’ work in amateur football. And no matter how loudly I bang the drum, how clearly I enunciate my screams from a Woodside rooftop, it is impossible to convince these draftniks that performance in amateur football is not an accurate indicator of professional success.
These national guys spend so much time analyzing players in the leadup to the NFL Draft, they forget that all of that analysis is meaningless once the players put on their NFL jerseys. Whatever they believed Justin Fields was in the spring of 2021, we now have a sample size of work that either proves or disproves those assertions. When Ryan Poles, Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy turned on the tape from 2021, they didn’t see a quarterback immediately ready to take the leap into the elite. They saw a quarterback needing significant mechanical alterations. They saw a quarterback failing to adjust to the speed of the game around him. They saw a quarterback relying exclusively on his athleticism to create positive plays. (They also saw ineptitude in the “system” around Fields but that’s well-worn territory at this stage.) Fields was a rookie. And he played like one.
Since meeting and working with Fields, the new leadership has been overwhelmingly impressed. He’s already instituted those mechanical changes and looks comfortable with them. His command of the playbook in just a few months has allowed him to be a vocal leader both on the field and in the meeting rooms. His charisma is infectious – this is his team and the players around him are responding. The leadership loves everything they’ve seen from Fields since taking over the franchise. But folks, he still has to DO IT on Sundays. That’s all that matters.
Desperate teams give Zay Jones $10 million a year. (The Jaguars have been in a perennial desperation.) Teams that are already at the top of the sport can draft projects like Christian Watson or an injured Skyy Moore. The Bears are not desperate. They are not at the top of the sport. They didn’t make their 2022 off-season about building around Justin Fields because the primary focus has been building Justin Fields. The Orlovsky and Tanier types think Fields is already built because some nonsense they saw on the Purdue tape. The Bears are a team that thinks they have their answer at quarterback and are eager to see if that truly is the case this coming season. If it is, you can rest assured they’ll be calling in the skill position calvary come March 2023.
In the meantime, the Bears have a plan. Install a QB-friendly scheme. Enhance the running game. Rebuild the defense. Give Fields the structure to improve. They believe they have done that for 2022. And there’s a lot of excitement in the building because of it.