Sports

Justin Fields is giving Bears everything, shameful team won’t do same

As Justin Fields was pummeled over and over again during the Bears’ ugly 12-7 loss to the Washington Commanders on Thursday night, two feelings washed over me.

I was impressed by Fields’ toughness. Here was a 23-year-old quarterback in his 16th career NFL start getting pulverized behind an offensive line that couldn’t stop an infant from highjacking a candy bar from your local Jewel. Here’s a quarterback with all the natural talent to be great having to pick himself off the turf time and time again because the organization he plays for decided it didn’t need to upgrade the protection in front of him this season.

Fields re-aggravated a left shoulder injury during the second quarter when he was blistered by a Commanders defensive lineman near halftime. He took another massive hit when he delivered a 40-yard touchdown strike to Dante Pettis in the third quarter. Fields stayed down for a while after the shot, but he eventually got up, did some push-ups to fire up his team, and walked to the sideline.

That brings me to my second feeling as Fields was taking a beating on national television on Thursday.

Disgust.

Here’s a second-year quarterback, trying to survive and thrive in a huge season for his NFL future, emptying the tank for his team.

It’s shameful that general manager Ryan Poles and the Bears decided not to do the same for him last offseason.

I’m fully aware that Poles was dealt a bad hand with the Bears’ cap situation. He didn’t have a war chest to go out and sign the likes of Terron Armstead or Laken Tomlinson.

End.

But what Poles has put around Fields is criminal. It’s an embarrassment.

Especially as it pertains to the offensive line.

Six weeks into the season, Fields is unquestionably behind the worst protection unit in the NFL. Rookie left tackle Braxton Jones has given up 20 pressures this season at an 11.1 percent clip, for Pro Football Focus. That ranks second among all tackles. Left guard Lucas Patrick has given up 16 pressures at an 11 percent clip. That’s also good for second-most among guards. Center Sam Mustipher has given up the most pressures at his position.

On Thursday, Fields was pressured 18 times, hit 12, sacked five, and forced to scramble on 12 more plays. He has been pressured on 46 percent of his dropbacks this season, per ESPN. That’s most through six weeks since ESPN started tracking pressures in 2009.

It all falls on Poles’ shoulders.

Poles accepted a job to turn the Bears into a consistent winner. The hardest part of building a team with sustained winning ability in the NFL is finding the right quarterback. Yet he inherited a roster with Fields, hailed as a generational quarterback talent since high school, already here. Poles ‘long-term vision would be much easier to accomplish if Fields’ development doesn’t hit any potholes and he exits this season healthy and on track to be the top-level NFL quarterback his talent suggests.

That requires a line capable of keeping Fields from spending more time on his back than surveying the defense.

James Daniels, Duane Brown, Roger Saffold, La’el Collins, and Austin Corbett all could have been had within the Bears’ price range. If Poles had $ 10 million to give Riley Reiff (with incentives) in July, he had the money to put a league-average offensive line around Fields before time ran out days before training camp.

Instead, the Bears asked a fifth-round rookie in Jones to man the left tackle spot during a critical season in Fields’ development. They banked on Patrick, a career swing interior lineman, to play above what his history di lui suggests. They crossed their fingers that Cody Whitehair would stay healthy. Their best healthy offensive lineman has been Teven Jenkins, who transitioned to guard two months ago.

We’re six weeks into a season that’s crucial for Fields’ future and already head coach Matt Eberflus is admitting they will have to take the shoddy offensive line work into account when evaluating the quarterback’s play.

After the loss to the Commanders, Fields’ frustration boiled over. Rightfully I know.

“I mean, nobody is happy about this loss,” Fields said. “Just we always get told that we’re almost there, we’re almost there. Like me personally, I’m tired of being almost there. Tired of being just this close. Feel like I’ve been hearing it for so long now. “

Eberflus and Fields spoke Friday. The Bears head coach said his quarterback of lui is sore but in a good space.

That’s only because he won’t spend the next 10 days behind a line that very well could get him injured this season. He has time to rest up before the likely beating that takes place next Monday night in New England. Then again against Michah Parsons and the Dallas Cowboys.

To inherit a quarterback of Fields’ ability and potential and decide not to do anything of note to keep him comfortable and clean in the pocket amounts to gross negligence. The quickest way to ruin even the most-talented young quarterbacks is to get him hit over and over again.

I’m not saying Fields has been perfect or is beyond criticism. He missed a touchdown throw to tight end Ryan Griffin and didn’t see a wide-open Dante Pettis. But when the criticism of Fields gets to the point of Ryan Fitzpatrick saying he “isn’t a pocket passer,” or Twitter QB coaches ripping him for leaving one of the few clean pockets he has early, it’s too far.

RELATED: Scenes from locker room in disbelief after Commanders loss

Fields was crunched, cracked, folded, and blasted for 60 minutes Thursday. He kept getting up. Kept coming. Kept standing behind an offensive line with maybe two league-average linemen in Jenkins and right tackle Larry Borom.

There was the 40-yard scoring strike to Pettis. The 39-yard run at the end of the game to get the Bears into the red zone with a chance to win. On the game’s final play, Fields made the right read and put the ball on the money for what should have been a game-winning touchdown.

Fields’ tank was well past empty when the clock hit zero against the Commanders.

Long after his body had been hammered play after play by Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, and the Commanders’ front, Fields sat inside his locker staring at his phone. Perhaps he was watching Darnell Mooney’s game-ending bobble or thinking about the 11 games left on the docket behind the turnstiles in front of him.

Justin Fields has been put in an impossible situation with a front office that has ignored his development by putting him behind a crap offensive line and with few weapons outside of Mooney. The “just wait for next offseason” only works if Fields isn’t killed or had his development di lui wrecked in a season that has been thrown away.

The Bears have been searching for a franchise signal-caller for almost three decades. Fields has all the tools to be the guy in Chicago for the next decade. But young quarterbacks don’t grow in the NFL without support.

Fields is giving the Bears his all in an attempt to prove he’s the quarterback the franchise has been desperately searching to find. It’s disgraceful Poles and the front office have effectively hung him, Eberflus, and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy out to dry this season.

Fields deserves better.

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