You never get a second chance to make a first impression, but in the case of Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields, his second start as a pro erased any doubts about his standing as the most critical player on the roster with his performance in the Bears’ win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Fields completed 11-of-17 passes for 209 yards, and while he did throw an interception, the impact he made on Chicago’s offense as a willing and accurate deep-ball passer and as a dangerous escape artist made it obvious to anyone not named Matt Nagy that he’s the key that unlocks the Bears’ offensive upside.
"I've been in tough spots before,” Fields said of the Bears' loss to the Browns in Week 3, “and my mindset was just to bounce back from last week, just to get better and keep pushing. I saw [Seahawks quarterback] Russell Wilson posted a tweet this past week saying, 'I love adversity,' and I truly do love that because it just brings a whole different person out of me, and in some ways I'm glad last week happened. I think if we would've won last week, it wouldn't have pushed us as much to get better and practice hard."
Fields threw some absolute dimes at Soldier Field on Sunday, including these three beauties worthy of a second look:
Fields’ downfield chemistry with second-year wideout Darnell Mooney is especially encouraging. Mooney had several moments last season when he was open for potential big plays, but the struggles at quarterback between Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky hurt his production.
In Sunday’s win over the Lions, Mooney snagged five receptions for 125 yards.
"The more explosive plays you can get, the better,” Fields said Sunday. “That was a big shot, and that just goes with momentum and practice. Me and Mooney, we stay almost every day after practice to throw at least a few extra routes so me and him are pretty much always on the same page. He had a great day today. He balled out."
Fields gives the Bears’ offense the best downfield passer the team has had since Jay Cutler, but his performance against the Lions still wasn’t enough to end the quarterback controversy in Chicago. Nagy met with reporters Monday morning and confirmed Andy Dalton remains the starter when he’s healthy in what remains more an act of gamesmanship than an honest approach to the position’s depth chart.
Nagy beat the same drum last week when Dalton returned to practice on a limited basis, leaving the Bears’ starting quarterback a mystery until Saturday night. It would be bordering on football malpractice to send Fields to the bench after such a surge of momentum and confidence, but at this point, anything’s possible with the Bears’ coaching staff.
Regardless of who starts in Week 5, Fields has taken over as the offense’s leader.
"I'm just proud of everybody on offense,” Fields said after the win, “from the O-line to the receivers to the running backs running hard. I think we all executed today at a high level."
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