(Audacy) In the grand scheme of a 17-year NFL career that may well net him a bust in Canton, nine-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jason Peters' season with the Bears in 2021 will be a relative afterthought.
However, Peters came away quite impressed with rookie quarterback Justin Fields.
"He got hurt right there in the middle of it," Peters said recently on Sirius XM NFL Radio. "He’s going to need his offensive line to block for him, give him some time — because he’s young — to go through his reads. Once he gets older and gets into the groove, because right now he’s going to be like a rookie with the new system pretty much with a new coaching staff, I’m pretty sure they’ve got a whole new system for him, new plays.
"As long as the offensive line gives him some time, he’ll do OK this year. Once he gets that offensive line set, that guy’s going to be special because he can throw, he can run, he can make all the plays he needs to make."
While Fields tossed just seven touchdowns to 10 interceptions in his rookie season, he did rush for 420 yards in parts of 12 games. Outside of former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, it's fair to say that Fields is the most dangerous rushing threat at the quarterback position in the NFL.
What's scary for Fields' development is that Pro Football Focus ranked the Bears' offensive line as the 22nd-best unit in 2021, with Peters getting the highest marks. Peters, 40, is now a free agent. The Bears didn't have a first-round pick in the NFL Draft this past spring because they used it to trade up and select Fields the prior year. They also didn't take an offensive lineman until the fifth round, when they selected Braxton Jones from Southern Utah. By all accounts, the Bears are banking on second-year offensive lineman Teven Jenkins taking a major step forward in 2022. And that says nothing of the lack of proven talent at the wide receiver position that Fields has to work with.
Fields does have a ton of talent, but he doesn't have a ton of talent around him, which makes you wonder whether he'll be able to achieve the ceiling that Peters believes he has.