I think most of Chicago was holding its breath with hope that Justin Fields would play in Sunday’s 31-10 loss to the New York Jets.
After all, in a season that is all about the development of JF1, watching a game without him loses most, if not all meaning.
I’m a Bears fan, though, so I will sit through them all. And Lord knows I’ve sat through some absolute clunkers. But watching a game devoid of its primary purpose is kind of like enduring a preseason game: the result doesn’t really matter and most of these players won’t be around when things count.
The Bears teased us when Fields tossed a handful of passes on the field before pregame warmups. But it wasn’t much of a tease given that the team activated third-string quarterback Nathan Peterman ahead of time. You don’t usually do that if you have two healthy quarterbacks above him.
Thus, when Trevor Siemian took the field with the first string offense, there wasn’t much hope for Bears Nation. What was their end game? That they were going to somehow beat a likely playoff-bound team? That the young players who might have a future beyond this year were going to take strides with Siemian leading the way?
Not only was Fields out, but so were rookie defensive backs Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon. So much for watching their development.
David Montgomery had himself a productive game with 79 rushing yards on 14 carries to go with 3 catches for 34 receiving yards. But Monty might not be back after this year — I certainly wouldn’t pay a running back his second contract — so it was just random filler for the Bears offense. Darrynton Evans, filling in for the injured Khalil Herbert, had 34 yards on 9 carries. But he’s already on his second team in three years and appears to be just a guy.
If you like to watch line play, maybe you spent your Sunday afternoon focusing on the big uglies on both sides of the ball. I have some hope for the potential of Teven Jenkins; a little less for Larry Borom and Braxton Jones. On the defensive line, I’m not all that encouraged by the progress of Dominique Robinson and Trevis Gipson, thus I think a complete overhaul is needed next offseason.
If I had to single out what I was watching on Sunday, I’d say Chase Claypool was about it. The Bears gave up what is likely a Top 40 pick — which may climb into the Top 35. They need him to play well and take a major step next year. Claypool was targeted five times and caught two balls for 51 yards. But the play of the game for me and my watching purposes was when he came down with a jump ball over star rookie cornerback “Sauce” Gardner for 31 yards down the sideline. The fact that Gardner got penalized for pass interference on the play was icing on the cake.
The more we see of Claypool besting good cover cornerbacks, the better I’ll feel about him and what the Bears gave up for him.
I have a fear that the Bears will drag on the Fields injury for the next several weeks, continuing to tease us that he’s ready to play at a moment’s notice before yanking him in favor of Siemian. I hope this is just an irrational fear rather than a premonition, but Bears games without Fields the rest of the season will be awfully unpleasant and unbearable to sit through.
I would love to see him play next week against the Packers and try to stop the Bears’ losing skid to their hated rival. But with the bye week coming the week after, I have a sneaky suspicion they’ll rest him once more.
And then sitting through a Packers game without a shred of hope of winning it will be a tough pill to swallow — and as all Bears fans know, we’ve choked down enough of those over the years.
We’ll be waiting anxiously this week for reports on Fields and hope for the best. That’s all we have left at this point.