LAKE FOREST — On the first play of the Bears and Lions game at Soldier Field on Sunday, Justin Fields faked the handoff to D’Onta Foreman and kept the ball himself for run on the left edge.
Fields slid for just a 1-yard gain, and rookie linebacker Jack Campbell put his full body weight on the Bears’ quarterback. Fields immediately looked at the ref and put his hands up. Cole Kmet and DJ Moore, who were to Fields’ left, clearly wanted a flag thrown on the play.
There wasn’t one, and that’s something Fields has grown used to since he was drafted in 2021. Fields has only received eight roughing the passer calls in 36 games played and none have been called in 2023.
2022 (5): two vs. the 49ers in Week 1, one vs. the Texans in Week 3, one vs. the Giants in Week 4, one vs. the Cowboys in Week 8
2021 (3): two vs. the Raiders in Week 5, one vs. the 49ers in Week 8
Fields has also only received three unnecessary roughness calls: one against the Giants in 2022, one against the Packers in 2021(which was offset by a Bears penalty) and one more against the Vikings in 2021.
The lack of late-hit penalties don’t go unnoticed, though.
Jaquan Brisker, who has never been shy to voice his opinions, was asked for his reaction on Monday when he sees Fields get hit and there is no penalty flag thrown.
“If it was us, they would be throwing it,” Brisker said. “It wouldn’t even be a reaction, they would just throw it. So I just think they should treat him fair. He’s a quarterback. I know he is 230 (pounds) and he run a 4.3, but it doesn’t really matter. He’s still a quarterback and we have to protect him. It’s disappointing.
“Obviously, the other team is being told to do dirty stuff after the play hit him like this certain way. It’s obviously being told by the way they have been treating him these last couple of weeks.
“A lot of shots to the head and it’s very disappointing seeing a guy like that get hit and take hits like that, and one of those hits, you know God forbid, could be something very bad. I think the league needs to get on that and notice that. It’s bad.”
Brisker accused opposing teams of being “told to do dirty stuff after the play.” The second-year safety was asked a follow up question about if he thinks it’s systematic that other teams are being coached to hit Fields hard or late.
“Yeah, you can just tell,” Brisker said. “Like Coach Flus he doesn’t tell us to do anything like that, but you can just tell the way they just hit him after the play .. you can just tell how they’re just trying to tug and try to do whatever they can to get him out of the game. It’s obvious. It’s obvious. All them head shots yesterday, all them late hits, trying to mess with his hand and things like that. It’s obvious, so the league just has to, you know, protect the quarterback and we’re going to protect ours at all times, so.”
Bears coach Matt Eberflus mentioned on Monday that he is “very active” and always in the ref’s ears when it comes to petitioning to protect the quarterback. Eberflus said he wasn’t happy about the play with Campbell and that he let the official know about it.
There were also some questionable hits on Fields in the first matchup against the Lions at Ford Field.
Like most of the other instances, Fields did not get a flag on the hits.
“That’s just what the Lions do — they play hard,” Fields said following the Week 11 loss to Detroit. “We knew that coming in that week the kind of effort and toughness and grit they play with. Their head coach preaches that. We kinda knew it was gonna be that type of game. I was talking to the ref and just asked, like telling him like, ‘yo, just watch out. Heads up for a late hit’ or something like that. I guess I didn’t get any. Keep playing ball and control what I can control.”
With four games still remaining in the regular season, that means there are still chances Fields will be susceptible to taking late hits. So, it will be up to everyone on the Bears to make sure the officials are well aware of how the 24-year-old quarterback is being treated.
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