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.