Jim O'Donnell: Fields didn't go far enough in speaking truths about his rough run with the Bears
THE PROBLEM WITH JUSTIN FIELDS isn't Justin Fields.
The problem Fields has faced this week is that he's the focal point of a nightmarish team/media/blind-bat fans ecosystem that can't handle truth.
The 24-year-old QB didn't come anywhere near close enough to calling out what a tenth-rate NFL organization he is currently employed by. That decays down from the McCaskeys to Kevin Warren to Ryan Poles to Matt Eberflus to Luke Getsy.
That's not a chain of championship command. That is a trampled train of fools, perfectly fitting on one of the most bleak Chicago sportscapes in the history of the city.
Fields is also confronted with a media vertical -- from national trash brags like Stephen A. Smith and Tony Kornheiser westward to the house-fawning "reporters" at Halas Hall -- who lack the textured knowledge to understand more flexible methods of winning football games.
MICHAEL JORDAN GREW TO REALIZE that his ultimate sanctuary was on the basketball court. That's where he could allow his extraordinary talent to dominate, to improvise and when necessary, to overcome the marginally inspired pluses of the grossly overrated "triangle offense."
Fields walked into Halas Hall three years ago an unquestionable football winner.
At Ohio State, his record as a starter was 20-2. Those two defeats came to Clemson, in a 2019 CFP semifinal, and to Alabama, in the 2020 national championship game.
A breakdown of his key statistics -- oh Lord, not statistics -- strongly suggested that he won sometimes playing against the wind. Had Frank Sinatra been headlining a Marriott Courtyard near Columbus, he might have called it, "My Way."
FIELDS WAS SACKED 56 TIMES in those 22 games. That worked out to once every 12 when Ryan Day and the Buckeyes called a pass play. That's a peculiar number, especially behind the mobile tree trunks that double as offensive lineman at Ohio Stadium.
But for every 9 passes Fields lofted, 1 went for a TD. He also completed 68% of his passes with an average yards-per-attempt -- a critical passing number -- of 9.4. His interception rate was a microscopic 1.4% (9 in 618 throws).
And bottom line, he won 10 of every 11 games he played.
Conclusion: He is most effective playing on a tightrope that most quarterbacks don't have the physical gifts or mental agility to dare think of attempting. Reining him in -- as the mockable apprentice Getsy has tried to do again and again -- would be like Mr. M. Jordan keeping his A-game in his socks so he could stay within the dainty basketball socialism of the Sam Barry-Tex Winter triangle.
ON WEDNESDAY, FIELDS SHOULD NEVER have attempted to walk back his original comments about the dog-dip coaching he is currently being subject to. In fact, he should have extended his words to cover all of the incompetents.
A nice capping summary would have been: "Look. The people I'm playing for right now aren't the people who drafted me. They want their system to succeed and the historic use of my skillset to win football games doesn't fit into their system. Who's to blame? We're pursuing the same goal.
"But for the greater good, I should be traded to a team that wants to more fully take advantage of what I am as a quarterback. Management demolished our season last year with the October trade of Roquan Smith. Since I am also obviously a bad fit by their expectations, why not move me to somewhere where I will have a more favorable chance as a professional and they hopefully can get some useful capital in return?
"I am still fully convinced that I can be an impacting starting quarterback at this level. I would depart with nothing but gratitude to the organization and the fans of the Chicago Bears, who might be the most frequently shortchanged band of lemmings on the planet. Will someone please give them a digital wake-up that tells them it's not 1985 anymore? And I would rather listen to Young Thug reading passages from Danielle Steel than listen to what passes for sports talk in this sorry-sass city."
(OK, asterisk the closing phrases ... It was a Wayne Morse/Dan Patrick moment that was simply irresistible.)
JUSTIN FIELDS: 20-2 AT OHIO STATE, 5-22 with the Bears.
It doesn't take the mathematical genius of a Nobel Laureate to figure that there is unyielding underachievement in that dismaying deep dive.
Memo to Halas Hall: As a solid to football and humanity, please get the young fellow outta here.
FOR SPECULATORS, THERE APPEARS TO BE no coherent money to be made on today's Bears-Chiefs game (Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, FOX; 3:25 p.m., to 67% of the nation).
The line opened at 11½, quickly moved to 13½ and has settled back around 12. Those sort of numbers give far too much leeway to the late-afternoon pixies of the NFL, especially in a paper mismatch of Alamo-esque proportion on showcase TV.
But here is an intriguing note from Steve Makinen of Vegas Stats and Info (vsin.com).
Since 2020, in Week 3 games matching 0-2 teams (like the Bears) vs. 1-1 outfits (the Chiefs), the winless group is 33-13 (71.7% winners) against the spread.
Via that bromide, the Bears are a play.
But so was Al Gore entering the wee hours of Presidential election night in 2000.
It remains a jungle out there.
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears each week on Sunday and Thursday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. All communications may be considered for publication.