The Chicago Bears are off to a 2-1 start, but it hasn’t been pretty.
Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields hasn’t shown much confidence on or off the court. He threw the ball just 45 times, completing just over half of those passes (23) for just 297 yards in three games. That’s a number you’d want to see from a quarterback in a single game, not in the first month of the season.
Fields and the Bears have a road game against the Giants on Sunday. It’s expected to be a tight game between two teams that are outperforming 2-1.
David Haugh and Dan Wiederer of Audacy’s original podcast “Take The North” discussed Fields’ slow start and whether the coaching staff should give him the opportunity to make feel-good plays.
“Do the Bears have a responsibility as a coaching staff to make Justin feel good? And I’m asking this because we’re coming up to the four-year-old birthday of Mitch Trubisky who kicked off his six-game touchdown game against the Buccaneers,” Wiederer said (7:18 in player above). “And some of that was calculated by Matt Nagy and his team, understanding that they were playing weak defense, first of all, in the Buccaneers, but also understanding that hey, if we can get Mitch out of this stadium this evening feeling on top of the world, what difference will it make before the next round of football matches? So I’m curious if the Bears have some responsibility – let’s say it’s the first and the goal in the five and you know you can beat it with Khalil Herbert and get into the end zone but you also know that it could be a big psychological boost for Justin to put a touchdown pass on his resume. Should this be considered?
Fields had two touchdown passes this season — both in Week 1 — and had nine in his 10 starts last season. He ran for a touchdown at Green Bay but only threw for 70 yards and had just 106 yards on 8 on 17 passes last week.
Getting another touchdown pass under his belt would definitely help his confidence.
“On the first try, yes. On the second try, maybe. On the third try, no. I think it’s all conditional,” Haugh said, emphasizing that you’re always going to put winning ahead of everything, even player development. “You will have to prioritize winning over development, you have 52 guys to worry about, but in the context of every game there are opportunities to develop players. It’s part of player development – yes, feeling good, building confidence. You are always trying to build their confidence. Hey, Mooney is frustrated, let’s give him a side screen and see what he can do with it on the first try and see if he can get us seven. That’s the kind of thing that if you’re in the red zone, you absolutely give Justin Fields the ability to roll, counter, hit the tight end, then celebrate a touchdown pass by smacking it or throwing it into the end zone. Roquan Smith-style. Yes, you have an obligation to do so.
However, it is a fine line for the coaching staff to walk. They can’t get greedy and ask too much like they did with Trubisky in the 2019 season.
“The following year the Bears tried a similar thing with Mitch Trubisky against (Washington),” Wiederer said. “They went into Monday Night there and Mitch threw three touchdown passes in the first half to Taylor Gabriel and they were trying to get him a fourth and maybe a fifth in the second half. He ended up throwing an interception near the goal line, then he missed a wide-open Anthony Miller – I’ve never seen him – on a play that would have given him another touchdown.
Trubisky had no touchdown passes in the first two weeks of 2019 before this game in Washington. He went 25 for 31 with those three touchdown passes and an interception in a 31-15 win — the Bears scoring all four touchdowns in the first half.
“It was very frustrating for the old coaching staff because they knew they were at a turning point in a very important season in 2019 where they were trying to get something to get Mitch out of the mental funk he was in. since the middle of training camp and they tried, and they tried, and they tried, and they failed. And the rest of the year went like the rest of the year,” Wiederer continued. “So it can also backfire when you do those things. It’s gonna be really interesting to see how they handle this with Justin because I don’t think him or Chicago or the building can really take many more weeks where he gets up in that chair and doesn’t look like he feels that he wants to be there.
This week’s game in New York is the start of four road games in five weeks for the Bears. Giving Fields some confidence and a win for the team could go a long way.