Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields couldn’t be more confident heading into the second year of his NFL career with his first full offseason under his belt. This he made clear before the 2022 NFL season.
While training camp has yet to begin, Fields’ teammates have received widespread praise for the leadership role he has actively taken on. It seems to instill optimism in a team that needs it after finishing 2021 with a 6-11 overall record.
Fields was among the rookie quarterbacks in the 2021 class who didn’t immediately get the go-ahead to go right off the bat. But the reins eventually passed from Andy Dalton to Fields sooner rather than later. It cmae with a mixed bag.
There are obviously things to be desired and questions raised with a stat line like this. His completion percentage didn’t even hit 60 with a low touchdown-to-interception ratio.
But like all rookies, it’s important to realize that this is a player in the first year of his career who has the same growing pains as all first-year quarterbacks. He also wasn’t put in the greatest of situations with a lackluster supporting cast.
Fields faced high levels of pressure from defenses in 2021. That played a part in some of his weak moments.
According to Pro Football Focus, Champs totaled 353 setbacks with 87 attempts under pressure. Of those attempts under pressure, he completed 40 with just two touchdown passes. He was also tied for the fifth most rotation-worthy games (11) and was sacked 36 times on those games.
The difference between his clean pocket pass mark and his mark from a pressurized pocket was major. Fields were rated at 78.4 when properly shielded and just 33.1 with a pocket compromised. That’s a difference of 45.3 points.
But the numbers and some of the shortcomings of other players on the pitch are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the argument that it wasn’t all Fields’ fault. The fact that Chicago parted ways with head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace, entering 2022 with an all-new setup, tells the bigger story.
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What to expect from Justin Fields in 2022
It should only be from here for Fields after last season’s obscurity.
In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Bears started on defense before going heavy on the other side of the ball with six picks on offense. The team got a new pass target in Venus Jones Jr. of Tennessee in the third round. They also picked up four offensive linemen.
- Round 2, Pick #39: Kyler Gordon, BC, Washington
- Round 2, Pick No. 48: Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
- Round 3, Pick #71: Venus Jones Jr., WR, Tennessee
- Round 5, Pick #168: Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah
- Round 5, Pick #174: Dominique Robinson, EDGE, Miami, Ohio
- Round 6, Pick #186: Zach Thomas, G, San Diego State
- Round 6, Pick No. 203: Trestan Ebner, RB, Baylor
- Round 6, Pick No. 207: Doug Kramer, C, Illinois
- Round 7, Pick #226: Ja’Tyre Carter, G, South
- Round 7, Pick No. 254: Elijah Hicks, S, Cal
- Round 7, Pick #255: Trenton Gill, K, State of North Carolina
There’s a lot to love about what Justin Fields brings to the table as a player. He was one of the best players in college football at Ohio State in his senior season, battling injuries and leading his team to a national championship appearance while completing 70.2% of his passes for 2,100 yards with 22. touchdowns and six interceptions.
In two seasons with the team after being traded from Georgia, he recorded a 68.4 percent passing rate with 5,373 passing yards, 63 touchdowns and nine interceptions. During a three-year college career, he totaled 1,123 rushing yards with 19 rushing touchdowns.
With the Buckeyes, he projected himself as a solid passer who brought an added element of explosiveness as a runner.
Although his decision-making under pressure was questionable and he occasionally bailed out of pocket, it never seemed like a glaring problem. This is mainly because of his unique athleticism and his ability to make things happen with his legs.
Fields showed us just how fast he was on Pro Day at Ohio State, clocking an unofficial 4.44 on his 40-yard sprint. Going up against an athletically and physically gifted quarterback in Trey Lance, Fields could be determined all the way as the best or second-best athlete at that position in the 2021 draft class.
Related: How the Chicago Bears are setting up QB Justin Fields to fail in 2022
Ranking Crissy Froyd’s 2021 NFL Draft quarterbacks
- Zach Wilson, BYU
- Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
- Justin Fields, Ohio State
- Trey Lance, NDSU
- McJones, Alabama
- Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
- Ian Book, Notre Dame
- Kyle Trask, Florida
- Davis Mills, Stanford
- KJ Costello, Mississippi State
- Jamie Newman, Wake Forest
- Sam Ehlinger, Texas
- Shane Buechele, EMS
- Peyton Ramsey, North West
- Felipe Franks, Arkansas
Finding the Right Parts for Justin Fields
Fields seems to be in a good place mentally with the 2022 season on the horizon, but he will still have some things to overcome as the Bears appear to be a decent distance from the baseline they need to reach as a team.
While new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is an upgrade that will help elevate this team as a play caller and has spoken of his intention to build the team around what Fields does best, there is still questions regarding the offensive line and wide receiver depth.
Fields has Darnell Mooney as a reliable target. Beyond that, the Bears still need some extra firepower that none of the receivers in their current room have shown in a major way. However, there is some hope that free agency additions Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown and draft pick Jones will show promise during camp.
Related: Chicago Bears training camp preview
Still, it’s in the Bears’ best interest to hit the free agency market and bring in another proven receiver like Emmanuel Sanders or Adam Humphries so they have someone outside of Mooney for Fields to build a relationship with. chemistry.
As for the offensive line, Justin Fields didn’t seem to trust his left tackle last season (and how could he, based on the pressure numbers). It has a lot to do with the mistakes he made. As training camp approaches, there’s still no clear picture of what the team’s offensive line will look like when it hits the field in Week 1. Rookie Braxton Jones saw time at left tackle with the starters. Larry Borom also moved to right tackle.
If the season started today, it’s safe to assume that Fields would start to take the next step as an individual player, with the game starting to slow down for him. Unfortunately, he will still be dealing with many of the same issues from last year’s Bears that haven’t been fully resolved.
The Bears have a chance to show offensive improvement in 2022, but they clearly have their hands full. They have to say it to give Justin Fields a chance to do himself justice this year.