Can Justin Fields end Bears’ decades-long offensive slump?


The Chicago Bears are looking to bounce back from a rough 2021-22 NFL season, but can they do so with minimal depth on offense and a largely unproven second-year quarterback in Justin Fields?

Former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said this week that he believes Fields — “a guy that makes a lot of mistakes and is not particularly accurate” — should go somewhere else as a backup QB because he won’t develop “on a horrendous” Chicago club that could end up being the worst team in the league this season.

The Bears finished third in the NFC North last season at 6-11. Chicago hasn’t finished above .500 since 2018, producing just two winning seasons in the past 10 years while making the postseason twice (2018 and 2020) during that stretch.

That could change this season with the addition of new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko to help guide Fields in his sophomore season, but Colin Cowherd isn’t convinced.

On Thursday’s “The Herd,” he broke down why the Bears are ultimately failing the 23-year-old Fields, saying that the organization is behind the times and doesn’t presently have the tools needed to succeed.

“Chicago is gonna be bad, and this is a promising year in a weak division,” Cowherd said. “[The] Bears can’t get the O-line right. They have one legitimate [player] — [Darnell] Mooney. That’s it.

“I feel like the Bears operate like it’s a 1958 franchise. They’re a black-and-white TV in a digital world. They just do not feel like they’re connected. They’re slow to pivot. They can’t figure out the salary cap. … The salary cap manipulates the Bears. … They have just romanticized [Mike] Ditka and the ’85 Bears forever. Enough! Pivot to offense. Give up Roquan Smith. Get Justin Fields help.”

Are the Bears failing Justin Fields early in his career?

Colin Cowherd explains why the Chicago Bears will struggle this season.

In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bears traded up to No. 11 overall to select Fields, followed by offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, who dealt with back issues as a rookie and has recently been moved to right guard. The Bears also acquired Andy Dalton before the draft, creating an immediate QB controversy ahead of Fields’ rookie season.

Over 12 appearances (including 10 starts), Fields completed 58.9% of his passes for 1,870 yards with seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Fields, who previously said he “wants to take over” the league, went 2-8 as a starter. He was sacked nine times in his first start in Week 3. He also fumbled 12 times for the season, losing five of them.

Fields saw limited time in the Bears’ second preseason game last week, completing 5-of-7 attempts for 39 yards despite spending much of his time on the run

Why it’s time for Bears to help Justin Fields

Colin Cowherd calls the Bears to acquire more talent for their sophomore QB.

The Bears have been struggling offensively long before Fields’ arrival, however. 

Over the past five years, the Bears’ offense ranks 27th in the NFL in points per game (20.3), 29th in passing yards per game (204) or 30th in big plays per game (10-plus rushing yards or 20-plus passing yards) with just 5.2.

The Bears check in at No. 28 in third-down conversion rate (36.1%), while ending 22.9% of their drives without a first down — the seventh-highest mark in NFL — and allowing the 10th-most sacks per game (2.6) over that same time.

Over the past decade, the Bears’ offense ranks 26th in the NFL in points per game (21.1) and 28th in passing yards per game (218.8). They are 28th in big plays per game with just 5.6 over the last 10 years.

It gets worse from there, with Chicago ranking third-to-last in passing yards per game (200.3) and drives ending with a touchdown (16.9%) over the past 20 years, and last in third-down conversion rate (35.3%.

The Bears have had seven first-round picks in the past 10 NFL drafts. Of the seven, four were offensive players — guard/tackle Kyle Long, wide receiver Kevin White and quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Fields — and three were defensive players — cornerback Kyle Fuller and linebackers Leonard Floyd and Smith.

Fields and Smith, who requested a trade from the Bears on Aug. 9 after saying that Chicago’s front office “doesn’t value” him, are the Bears’ only first-rounders from the past decade still with the team.

It appears Smith’s days in Chicago are numbed, and Fields’ could be, too, if he doesn’t significantly improve this season.


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