How about giving Fields some playing time Sunday?

  • Would the Bears be better off if quarterback Justin Fields was gradually worked into the offense, starting Sunday at Los Angeles?

    Would the Bears be better off if quarterback Justin Fields was gradually worked into the offense, starting Sunday at Los Angeles? Associated Press

Updated 9/11/2021 5:57 PM

"Justin Fields should start against the Rams Sunday."

"No he shouldn't."


"He should start in Week 2."

"No, Week 4."

"No -- not until the Bears fix their God-awful offensive line."

(So, in 2025?)

Everyone, it seems, has an opinion -- and oftentimes pretty vocal ones -- on when the rookie should begin his ascent to the Greatest Chicago Bears Quarterback of All Time.

Or, perhaps, the Greatest NFL Quarterback of All Time (Which, of course, is flat-out impossible, just based on the fact he's playing for the Bears).

During the preseason Fields displayed an athleticism at the position not seen around these parts since Kordell Stewart's illustrious Bears career (nine games, seven starts in 2003). And -- gasp -- Fields actually appears able to throw accurately into tight coverage.

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So why not start him right away? Make it a baptism by fire. Or, more accurately, baptism by blitzkrieg.

Peyton Manning certainly had a rough rookie season in Indianapolis, throwing a league-high 28 interceptions for a wretched 3-13 squad. Those worried about ruining Fields' confidence should remember Manning didn't allow that one campaign to turn him into Ryan Leaf. The next season he threw just 15 INTs for -- are you ready for this? -- a 13-3 Colts team that lost to Tennessee in the Divisional round of the playoffs.

Now, while I don't believe Fields should start Sunday, I also don't think it would be the worst thing in the world.

What the Bears should consider is giving Fields a series or two or three during the game. You can script it and say he's going in on the third series, the fourth, whatever. Or you can put him in when you've got favorable field position -- something like around midfield or maybe even in Rams territory.

This strategy, which could be enacted until Fields becomes the full-time starter, does a couple of things:

• First, it catches opponents off guard and gives them a completely different look. Instead of just worrying about running back David Montgomery, wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney and tight ends Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham, now they're concerned that Fields might break loose for 10, 15 or 40 yards.

• It also lessens the pressure on Fields as he begins his NFL apprenticeship. He learns a little bit at a time while gaining precious experience during games that count.


Dick Jauron and the Bears tried this strategy with Cade McNown in 1999. McNown, the 12th overall pick that year, went on to the Draft Bust Hall of Fame, with his plaque sitting right next to Leaf's.

But we all know Fields is not McNown. Not by a longshot.

So throw the kid in there against the Rams, the Bengals and the Browns. Then, in Week 4 when many believe he'll be starting against the Lions anyway, he'll be even more ready to go.

Sounds like a plan, right? Now it's just up to the Bears to pull the trigger.

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