The Chicago Bears got their sixth win of the season last week against the Arizona Cardinals. The win total is double the total from last season. In spite of that, there are some who lament the fact that the team should have had more wins. Chicago blew three games in which they had double-digit late-game leads.
Part of the reason for some of the frustration is the inconsistent offense. At times, the Bears offense looks like they could hang with any of the best offenses in the NFL. At others, they look like a pee-wee football team that doesn't know what it is doing.
Quarterback Justin Fields has taken the brunt of the criticism of the offensive woes. General Manager Ryan Poles and President Kevin Warren, who are the ones who will be making the decisions this offseason, need to choose whether Fields is the man to lead the offense moving forward or trade him and use the top pick on a quarterback prospect.
Despite not having big numbers, Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields has progressed and made the decision to move on from him difficult
Fields is in his third season. The Bears have to decide in May whether to use the fifth-year option. If they do, he is guaranteed about $20 million for one season. Will the Bears want to pay him that amount for his services?
While he doesn't have eye-popping numbers, he has progressed. He has a higher completion and touchdown percentage and a lower interception percentage. Additionally, he is on his way to having career highs in passing yards and touchdowns.
The problem is that Fields his numbers are not extraordinarily higher. He continues to have good games and showing he could be elite one day while looking very pedestrian the other. That is a big frustration for both fans and analysts around the league.
Take last week's performance against the Cardinals for example. Fields finished 15/27 for 170 yards and a touchdown. Those are not numbers that would instill hope for your team, right? However, there are a couple of things that show that he had a pretty good game.
First, Fields did not have his top receivers for the entire game. Wide receiver D.J. Moore got hurt on the first drive of the game. He was pretty much used just as a decoy the rest of the game. He had just 18 yards on 3 catches.
Tight end Cole Kmet was on his way to having a career game. He had 4 catches for 107 yards in the first half. However, he also got injured and did not play the second half.
Without his two best targets playing much, Fields was handcuffed. It seemed that offensive coordinator Luke Getsy felt that way. Fields went 10/17 for 135 yards and a touchdown in the first half. However, Getsy scaled down the playbook in the second half. He had Fields throw just 10 times. Fields completed five of them for just 35 yards.
Fields kept working, though. He used his legs to make big plays. He ran 9 times for 97 yards. The Bears' running attack was great. Chicago ran for 250 yards, led by Khalil Herbert's 112 yards. Both Fields and Herbert had rushing touchdowns.
Late in the game, Fields also made a big play, this time with his arm. Facing a third and four at the Arizona 21 with 2:06 left in the game, the Bears held onto a 24-16 lead. Fields threw a great pass to Moore for seven yards and a first down. That play allowed the Bears to use up more than a minute off the clock and seal the victory.
A win is a win, no matter what the stats are
Despite not having impressive numbers, head coach Matt Eberflus sees the progress Fields is making. He was impressed with Fields' ability to make the plays to help get the win while not having his weapons.
"I see it as progress. When you're the winning quarterback on the winning team, that's always good, right? He's been part of that; the last three out of four wins have been coming out of the two-minute, and he's been part of that. I certainly do see progress."- Matt Eberflus
For his part, Fields is not concerned with having big numbers as long as the team wins. There are just some times that the numbers won't be impressive. The key is to still find a way to do what is necessary to win the game.
"I'm cool with whatever as long as we win a game, to be honest with you. If I have 100 passing yards with zero touchdowns ... we get the win, I'm cool with that. I know people love stats and -- he only threw for this much or that much. I don't care. We won the game."- Justin Fields
People can nitpick and find many things to criticize. As Fields said, they want to see big numbers. However, something they cannot criticize is the win total. Fields is 3-2 since his return from a dislocated thumb that cost him four games. That might not seem like a lot but considering he won just three games all of last season, that is progress.
There are two games remaining in the season. If the Bears can finish strong and win those two games Fields can strengthen his case to remain the Chicago Bears leader.