Letting QB Justin Fields throw is most sensible choice for Bears’ present, future

Everything in the NFL is about contending for a championship, or for a rebuilding team like the Bears, taking steps toward it. And nothing is more important in that venture than figuring out whether Justin Fields is the quarterback who can get them there.

When he’s throwing 11 passes in a game, as he did in the loss to the Packers, that’s not accomplishing anything. That’s not the way to win now, nor does it provide any insight into whether he should be the focus of the Bears’ future.

Matt Eberflus warned against overreacting to the Bears minimizing Fields’ opportunities, saying it’s only two games into the season, but he has thrown the fewest passes of any NFL starter. That type of conservative game plan by offensive coordinator Luke Getsy makes it harder for him to grow.

“Yeah, maybe, but my No. 1 priority in my job is to run the plays like I’m taught to and to execute them at the best of my ability and to ultimately win games,” Fields said Wednesday. “So, if our offensive coordinator thinks the plays he’s giving me are going to help us win games, that’s all I care about.”

He gave some version of that at every turn. He pointed to his coaches’ experience and said he trusts them. He said stats don’t matter.

He mentioned “selflessness,” too. But reality is that whatever is best for Fields is also best for the Bears. They’re not going anywhere, this season or over the next couple, if he’s not flourishing and outright winning games for them.

Case in point in Green Bay: A game in which he throws 11 times is not a viable template. Great teams aren’t going that route. Eberflus seemed to agree and insisted that an even balance of run and pass plays is “what we need to have… and we’ll get that.”

“It’s so early in the season right now,” he said. “Let’s let this thing move forward and continue to grow.”

Continue? Growth needs to begin first.

Fields completed 7 of 11 passes for 70 yards with an interception for a 43.8 passer rating against the Packers.He got 30 of those yards on a flea flicker on his fourth snap of the game.

Eberflus said he embraces and even insists on Fields’ having a say in the offensive game plan, but Fields didn’t speak up about wanting to throw more.

“In terms of when we’re going to call a play, how many passes, how many runs we’re going to call, that’s Luke’s job, and everybody in the building knows that Luke knows what he’s doing,” Fields said. “We put full trust in him knowing that he’s gonna put us in the best position to win.”

He also didn’t interpret the game plan as a sign that Eberflus and Getsy lack faith in him.

“Not at all,” he said, citing the robust running game.

But Fields is just 15 of 28 passing for 191 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for a 69.2 passer rating. That’s the lowest yardage total and third-lowest completion percentage and passer rating of any NFL starter. No other starter has thrown fewer than 20 passes in a game, which Fields has done twice.

Regardless of how the Bears ended up there, it’s concerning.

If Fields is struggling because his opportunity is so limited, that’s mismanagement. If Eberflus and Getsy are doing it because they’ve seen enough in practice to worry them, that’d be equally troubling.

The upside for the Bears, as Eberflus noted, is that there’s still time to change course. But assessing Fields is the most pressing matter facing this organization. Urgency trumps patience in this situation.

The Bears’ next two games are against teams that went 4-13 last season — Sunday against the Texans and Oct. 2 at the Giants — and while both are decent on pass defense, neither is overwhelming. It’s the perfect time to finally let Fields step fully into his job.

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