Fields wows again, but Bears fall to lowly Lions at Soldier Field
There Justin Fields was again, making a spectacular play that made him look like the best player on the field, scrambling 67 yards for a go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
And yet, there he was again, ball in hand trying to lead a game-winning drive with two minutes to go after the defense blew that lead.
Sunday’s 31-30 loss had an all-too-familiar feel to it. Sure, it was against a different opponent, one who is absolutely putrid and really shouldn’t have been in the game, let alone have won it. Yes, this time Cairo Santos was not Mr. Reliable as he biffed an extra point that ultimately decided the game.
But when it comes down to it, the moral of the story is that Justin Fields is damn good and his team is awfully bad.
For some fans, that’s good enough. Many don’t want the Bears to win games. They want them to walk the tightrope of seeing Fields improve each week while still losing games in order to have better draft stock in next April’s draft.
That’s fine. I’m not going to scold you for having a long-term view in mind.
But for me, the draft is always secondary unless there is a proven “best overall” player at a position of need. But given that there is such a high bust rate for first round picks, there’s no guarantee the Bears will even land the correct player.
I’m not one who believes the Bears are in the playoff hunt, so I don’t watch them while rooting for wins with that misguided hope in mind. But I do want them to win because sports are entertainment and I enjoy watching them win.
I also want them to win because I want Justin Fields to experience what winning at this level entails. The guy has been a winner all his life, and surely the losing of the past year and a half of his career has been killing him. So much so that there are reports that Fields sat silently at his locker for at least 45 minutes after the loss to the Lions — which I think is a little excessive after a regular season loss in November, but who am I to tell the guy how to process it?
Yes, I want the Bears to win — draft pick be damned — because I want to see Fields grasp victory from the jaws of defeat and gain confidence in what to do when the Bears are, in fact, playoff contenders some day. I want to see the Bears win because I want Justin Fields to experience carrying a team on his back if he ever needs to in the future when they are good again. I want Justin Fields to experience successful two-minute drives to close games so that when the games count, he has a memory of what it takes to accomplish such a feat in the near future.
Maybe he can flip that on like a light switch? I don’t know. But I’d prefer he get practice now.
The Bears are now averaging 31 points per game over the last four weeks, ever since Luke Getsy altered the offensive strategy and decided to get Fields more involved in the run game. In fact, the most impressive thing about this explosion of points is that it’s being fueled mostly by the run game. There has been little help from the passing game during this span.
If you want to put into perspective how impressive Fields has been at running the football, take note of the NFL’s rushing leaders. Fields currently ranks 6th in the league in rushing yards. He’s a quarterback, in case you forgot. That’s amazing.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is 12th in rushing, and everyone raves about him. But there’s a new “running quarterback” king on the block.
We’re just going to have to exercise patience and keep enduring the deficiency in passing statistics for the remainder of this season. I would think that defenses will eventually get around to stopping Fields from making them look ridiculous. It might not happen right away. But from a long-term vision, Fields will have to get better at passing the football because this type of play is not sustainable.
Show me a quarterback that has had a long career at being a run-first player and I will show you an alien. They typically do not last very long in this league because their speed will inevitably wane as they age. They need to have the passing to back it up.
The hope is that Fields will improve in that area as his career progresses, and that will start next offseason when general manager Ryan Poles uses the excess of cap space to bring in some complementary pieces to help Fields out.
It’s never a good day when you lose to a team — and a franchise — as bad as the Lions. That really puts things in perspective. It makes you realize just how awful your team is. But the good news is that the Bears, unlike the Lions, appear to have the right quarterback in place. Now they just need to give him the utensils to cook.