Ellis: We don't need to lose Justin Fields through the trees


(670 The Score) On second thought, maybe I do think that Justin Fields should play Sunday. I had sort of assumed that completing more passes, throwing more touchdowns and nearly doubling his QBR from last season while coming 64 yards short of the best quarterback rushing season in NFL history would've bought Fields a little more time as the Bears’ bona fide franchise quarterback, but in a city with such historically high expectations there, I guess I should've known better.

The reaction to the news that Fields’ season is over has been … weird? Kinda dramatic? I imagine you’ve poked around 670's mentions at some point in the last few days. They are, in a word, loud. Turns out Bears fans feel strongly about the team’s direction. Call me a coward, but it’s hard to blame anyone on either side of the QTs for being grumpy. This is what winter does to people. No good comes from cold tweeting.

Still – what’s going on here? Moving Fields to a different position? Trading him? If you’ve never been a contrarian, I really do suggest you try it. It’s a rush. But picking your spots is the name of that game, and it’s just objectively difficult to argue that Fields didn’t show enough this season to warrant full confidence from anyone on the Bears, front office or otherwise. They need wide receivers, but not that badly. Nobody – and I really do mean this – is saying that Fields is the best passer in football. Nobody besides FieldsGoated85 is saying that Fields is the best passer in football. Those were never the expectations this season. Even if he hadn’t improved, which, you’ll remember, he did, there’d be a pretty strong argument that the jury should still be out. The supporting cast argument gets thrown around a lot, but for good reason. The vast, vast majority of those screenshots with open wide receivers that Fields supposedly missed also showed him comically surrounded by guys in purple, or green, or whatever color the Commanders call their jerseys. It’s only the easy answer because it’s the obvious answer.

Bears discourse is having quite the reporting-vs.-analyzing crisis this season. It’s not any less wrong to say that Fields played poorly against the Lions – he literally said that himself – than it is to point out that, in the penultimate week of a three-win season, none of that really matters! It’s absolutely true that Fields needs game reps to improve, just like it’s absolutely true that 45-50 of them didn't need to come behind practice squad players in the last game of the season as he deals with a bad hip, calf and foot. It feels like a bad-faith argument to say that Bears fans are consistently letting Fields off the hook or that they became nose blind to his flaws because he was the best running quarterback in football this season. They simply had their expectations met and are happy about it. The Bears somehow managed to get a season worth celebrating out of a year when their last win came before Halloween – even if you didn’t have 30-plus years of context, it’s impressive.

Though Fields spent a good chunk of the season leading the way, it feels like the general consensus is that right now, he looks like the second-best quarterback from that huge 2021 NFL Draft. At least one, maybe two players who got drafted in that first round aren’t even going to be on their original teams next season. And surprise, Fields had better passing stats than both of them. There are teams with actual quarterback problems that would trade for Fields in a heartbeat and leave the Bears with way more than one pointless Nathan Peterman start. Now that Fields’ season is over, resetting expectations is fair game. There’s going to be a time when the Bears have the players in place around him, and these missed throws or lack of anticipation will actually be cause for panic. Let’s just agree to wait and bicker about it then.

Cam Ellis is a writer for 670 The Score and Audacy Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KingsleyEllis.

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