The debate over whether Justin Fields should play or not with a separated shoulder is a lot more spirited outside of Halas Hall than within.
“If he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go. And if he’s not, he’s not,” Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Thursday. “We’re gonna play the game the way we know how to play the game. We’ll see whatever the medical team and Ryan [Poles] and Flus [coach Matt Eberflus] have to say, [and] that’s what we’ll do.”
Getsy said he did not know whether Fields or back-up quarterback Trevor Siemian will start against the Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. But it was a non-issue for him, even though Fields and Siemian have contrasting styles that would impact preparation and play-calling.
“It’s like any position,” Getsy said. “[This is] not the first time that we’ve been faced with this with other positions. Just approaching it the same way. We’re getting ready. We’re ready for whichever way we have to go with this thing in the end.”
Fields, who separated his left (non-throwing) shoulder when he was hit late in the game against the Falcons on Sunday, was limited in practice Thursday. But in the early portions of practice open to the media, he looked functionally able to play the position.
“He’s preparing right now to be the starter this week,” guard Teven Jenkins said. “His work ethic never changes and that’s what I really respect about him.”
Fields historically he has played through injuries and/or recovered quickly from them.
But with the Bears 3-8 and rebuilding, it doesn’t seem worth the risk to subject a player as valuable as Fields to a Jets defense that is fourth in the NFL in sacks (32) and second in quarterback hits (81).
But both Eberflus and Getsy said that was not a concern.
“They obviously have a really good defense,” Eberflus said. “A very good front. Their linebacker level is really good. They are really good in the secondary. They are in the top 10 in a lot of categories on defense. If he’s ready, he’s ready. That’s not going to factor into it.”
Getsy doesn’t have a say in that decision. “Whatever they tell me, that’s what I rock and roll with,” he said. “If they tell me he’s ready to play, he’s ready to play. If they say he’s not, he’s not. I don’t get to make those decisions.”
There is a bit of gamesmanship involved in this scenario, with the uncertainty forcing the Jets to prepare for two different quarterbacks. But Getsy said that same uncertainty has no impact on the Bears’ preparation.
“You always have to be ready,” he said. “Trevor’s been the back-up since we started this year. At any moment he could always go in. If you knew one guy was playing over the other, maybe your game plan gets more specific, but we’re good knowing either way.”
Siemian has started 29 games in his eight-year NFL career with the Broncos (13-11), Jets (0-1) and Saints (0-4). He has not started in a year — a 31-6 loss with the Saints against the Bills on Thanksgiving last season at the Superdome.
In five games in place of injured starter Jameis Winston last season, Siemian had an 86.0 passer rating (57.2% completions, 216.6 yards per game, nine touchdowns, three interceptions), but was 0-4 as a starter before being replaced by Taysom Hill.
“This is a guy that played a lot of ball last year,” Getsy said. “Had a lot of success, throwing the ball around the yard a little bit. That game experience, you can’t replace. That’s a good crutch we get to lean on.”