Even though it was Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers again getting the last laugh in Sunday’s game, it was hard not to come away impressed with the performance Justin Fields had for the Chicago Bears.
And for Fields, a quarterback that has set multiple records this season, that is saying something.
The Bears scored 24 or more points every single game since their “mini-bye” except last week’s loss to the Jets. The only difference? Fields wasn’t there as he was recovering from his shoulder injury.
Upon his return in Sunday’s 28-19 loss, Fields put together his most productive passing performance of the year throwing for a season-high 254 yards while hitting another season-best 80 percent of his throws. That 80 percent completion rate is also a career-high for games Fields has thrown more than two passes.
If the first few weeks after the October 13 loss to Washington was about Fields’ development becoming a dangerous rusher, his first game back from injury was proof that the second-year signalcaller is growing as a passer, too.
At one point, Fields hit 11 straight throws and didn’t have an incompletion from the 9:45 mark in the second quarter until 3:33 remained in the game. The kid was slinging the rock, and No.1 could tell he was in a flow.
“I felt really comfortable out there in the passing game. I just got to keep improving and keep getting better,” Fields said.
His “comfort” was evident by the number of shots he took down the field as he completed two balls that were caught for a gain of 49 or more yards. Also, half of his completions went for 10-plus yards.
This wasn’t dinking-and-dunking. What Fields did for the majority of the game was attack the Packers’ defense, and succeed while doing so. He put the ball in spots and his playmakers made plays.
They just didn’t make enough to take down the Packers … this time.
Even though Fields ended up throwing two interceptions late in the game, he provided plenty of reason for continued hope and optimism surrounding his development and overall trajectory.
In fact, the first interception was more on the receiver, Equanimeous St. Brown, than Fields’ throw.
“Justin’s been ripping that pass a couple times earlier,” Bears Coach Matt Eberflus said. “That’s a trust throw. When you have a trust throw that means that he’s reading it and, man, he’s going to let it rip and the guy’s got to do a great job of stepping up and making those plays. I thought the corner made a nice play. He jumped it. But hopefully, our receiver can jump out and knock that down if possible.”
Fields echoed his coaches’ sentiments in wishing St. Brown made a better play on the ball.
“I think 23 made a great play on that play. EQ was underneath him. At that point, once you throw that ball, you anticipate the throw and then boom he jumped it and really at that point, you just like to see the receiver come back to the ball,” Fields said.
No, this is not throwing your guy under the bus. This is leadership. Fields is holding his teammates accountable. Plain and simple.
Despite missing a week, Fields didn’t skip a beat. He’s continuing to stack performances that should only further increase the confidence Bears Fans, the front office, coaching staff and his teammates have in him.
Not only did Fields prove his resiliency and toughness by coming back so soon after the injury, but he also displayed … yet again … that he is the Bears’ franchise quarterback by making multiple big plays in his most complete performance of the season.
For now, the Bears will retain a top pick in next year’s draft. But don’t tell Fields that. He’s going to go out there and do his best to win the four remaining games after the bye.
“I want to win every game. It’s that simple,” he said.