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The Bears are expecting a breakout from Justin Fields. Darnell Mooney explains why


No NFL fanbase has been more tortured by their quarterback history than the Chicago Bears. That’s a fact. Other fans might try to raise an argument. They are wrong. Chicago saw one of its QBs make the Pro Bowl twice during the Super Bowl era. Even when things looked good, they weren’t. Jim McMahon could not stay healthy. Jay Cutler was too erratic. It is the only franchise without a 4,000-yard passer in team history. This might help people understand why Justin Fields is under so much pressure.

He’s supposed to be the one to finally break the misery streak. That’s why the Bears traded him into the 2021 draft. Then his rookie year happened and fans were left with nothing but uncertainty about the future. Not only is Fields starting again in a new offense, but the national perception is that his team hasn’t done much to help him further. They hung it up to dry. Darnell Mooney doesn’t see it that way.

He thinks people underestimate Fields.

The third-year catcher sat down for an interview on Red line radio. He was asked if he accepted the perception that the team might not be very good this year. Mooney flatly denied it. He has no doubt in his mind that this offense can surprise people. His confidence comes from seeing the skillful players come together and watching Fields’ progress this summer. There’s only one thing required to get this thing off the ground. Protection. They have to keep the QB on his feet.

Fields was sacked 36 times in 12 games last year. He took a beating and was under pressure quite often. The offensive line has been overrun far too often. Fields’ tendency to hold the ball made matters worse. When protected, however, the guy made stunning plays. His best three games against Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and Detroit saw him sacked three times or less. Probably not a coincidence.

Justin Fields is at the mercy of his offensive line.

Right now, the unit looks nothing like it did last year. The only starter left is Cody Whitehair at left guard. Lucas Patrick replaced Sam Mustipher at center. Left tackle, right tackle and right guard are undecided. Luke Getsy and his attacking staff are trying to fix the problem. So far, no answer has been given. It’s hard to believe that such a volatile group can be much better than last year. Not unless Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins take significant steps forward.

That said, a system change could end up helping a lot.

Head coach Matt Eberflus said the Bears would be a top team. It is their identity. Run the ball in their new wide-area scheme and let Justin Fields go on the hunt with play action. Not a bad idea since the QB was good on the game last year. It would also build on the strength of their running back team with David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. One can understand Mooney’s position. With all the speed the Bears have at wide receiver, the only thing stopping a lot of big plays is Fields ending up on the back.

We’ll see how general manager Ryan Poles has revamped that line when training camp begins next month.

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