I’ll give you three choices, Bears fans, none of them good:
– The powers that be have no confidence in quarterback Justin Fields.
– The powers that be should have no confidence in Fields.
– The powers that be actually think the point of this season is to win games, not to find out if they have a franchise quarterback.
As I said, not exactly options that put a spring in your step.
The Bears beat Houston 23-20 Sunday, and if you think that’s worth celebrating, you’re either a McCaskey or you haven’t had sunshine in your life for a long time. The Texans are a bad team featuring a quarterback (Davis Mills) with a name like an outlet mall. OK?
So where does that leave the Bears three games into the season?
At best, they still have no idea what they have in Fields.
At worst, they already know what they have — a guy who can’t hit open receivers. No, that’s not the worst. The worst is the possibility that the Bears don’t see a need for urgency in finding out about Fields.
“It’s always going to be about the football team,” coach Matt Eberflus said about Fields’ struggles Sunday weighed against the joy of a Bears victory. “So we’re going to develop this whole football team, and he’s one piece of that for sure.”
Treating a pawn and a bishop the same as a queen isn’t shortsightedness. It’s blindness.
Thirteen starts into his career, Fields is going backward as a quarterback. He threw two interceptions Sunday. He looked like he was down two quarts of confidence. That might have been caused by the Bears’ decision to run the ball so much, to run the ball on obvious passing downs and to not use timeouts to set up pass plays before halftime.
You’d be a mess, too, if your coaches did that to you.
After throwing just 11 passes in a loss to the Packers the week before, Fields finished 8 of 17 for 106 yards and no touchdowns Sunday. Add that up, and you have a 27.7 passer rating.
“Straight up, I just played like … trash,” he said.
He did, but the only way to find out if he’s a franchise quarterback is to let him throw the ball more often. To wade through the trash and (hopefully) get to the other side.
But the Bears rushed for 281 yards! They’re 2-1! Yay, right?
They seem oblivious to the fact that they’re running in place developmentally as a franchise. In the NFL, it’s always about the quarterback.
Here’s all you need to know about where the Bears are with Fields: On third down and 1 with 46 seconds left in the first half, Eberflus declined to use a timeout to stop the clock and have offensive coordinator Luke Getsy call a pass play for Fields. Instead, they ran the ball once and watched Fields get sacked before time run out, leading fans at Soldier Field to let the head coach know what they thought of his decision. They were not pleased.
On an earlier third-and-6, Getsy called a run play for rookie Trestan Ebner that gained two yards. There were boos for that, as well.
There is only one purpose to this season for the Bears, and that’s to find out if Fields can play. The coaches and players might not like the lumps they have to take in the process. They might not like the final answer. But the franchise has to find out.
Let’s be clear about one thing: Fields’ struggles Sunday were not a product of the lack of talent around him. They were a product of his mistakes and his coaches’ decision to give him the cold shoulder.
It’s very difficult to understand how the passing game could be ignored two weeks in a row. After the loss to the Packers, Bears general manager Ryan Poles should have ordered Eberflus to fall out of love with the running game. On Sunday, he should have stormed into the Bears’ locker room at halftime, put Eberflus in a headlock and told him:
“This whole season is about seeing progress from Justin Fields as a passer — or at least to find out if he can actually throw a football. I don’t care about seeing Fields run with the ball. I don’t care about David Montgomery or Khalil Herbert. Good running backs. Probably fine people. Don’t care.
“The score of the game? That has as much meaning to me as the lint in my pocket. Got it?”
It’s hard to tell football coaches that. But these coaches, specifically Eberflus and Getsy, need to hear it.
Unless they’ve already decided that Fields can’t play.
In which case, uh-oh.
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