The excerpt from above is from an ESPN interview in the Netflix series, Beyond the Lights. This 30-second clip can tell you a lot about Justin Fields. First, as Bears fans noticed on draft day, Fields is as as mild mannered as they come. He is a 17-year-old kid on a Netflix series being interviewed by ESPN and he doesn’t seem bothered at all. Justin Fields is built different than the kids in high school who’s pit stains ran down to their waist line because they had to make a speech in front of the class.
Justin Fields also shows an understanding and maturity during the interview. He talks about how things are the same but different at school because of all the attention he has been getting on campus. The thing that stuck out most to me was this quote from Fields.
“I mean, I can definitely feel the love from everybody. I mean, a lot of people know who I am already so it’s definitely a great feeling, but it’s also a burden because they have expectations for you and you have to fill those expectations.”– Justin Fields
This may have been a quote about the University of Georgia, but it can still be applied to a program like Ohio State. I find it funny how transferring is seen as such a knock on a prospect. Not all prospects transfer because they can’t win a starting job. Sometimes a change of scenery is exactly what a player needs. Sometimes coaches and scouts don’t get it right. It’s pretty clear in hindsight that Georgia made the wrong choice by starting Jake Fromm and letting Justin Fields walk. I think it’s safe to assume that Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears are happy that he decided to transfer.
Being drafted 11th overall by the Chicago Bears gives Justin Fields a unique opportunity to break two of the biggest stigmas in the sporting world. One being that Ohio State can’t produce NFL quarterbacks, and the other being the Chicago Bears can’t find a franchise quarterback.
Let’s start with the Ohio State side of things. It’s fair to say that Ohio State’s list of NFL quarterbacks is underwhelming, especially as of late. The top quarterbacks to come out of Ohio State in the last 20 years are Craig Krenzel, Terrelle Pryor, Dwayne Haskins, J.T Barrett, and Troy Smith. Terrelle Pryor was drafted as a wide receiver and started at quarterback for only a few snaps in his career. Bears fans know Craig Krenzel’s career was a fart in the wind. Troy Smith played four games at quarterback, and then theres Dwayne Haskins. I understand the how the history of OSU quarterbacks but I beg you not to be the person saying this.
“Ohio State always has a loaded roster that competes for a National Championship. None of their quarterbacks make it in the NFL. They always have the best line, best receivers, best running game, best defense, and best coaches. I could play quarterback for the Buckeyes and take them to the playoffs.”Random Bears or Badgers Fan
While I do understand these blanket arguments against all Ohio State quarterbacks, I urge you to look past this. Statistically, the aforementioned quarterbacks don’t really compare to Justin Fields.
I would have included J.T. Barrett in the chart, but he never played a snap in the NFL and his career stats are inflated. Justin Fields has the highest QB rating, best touchdown-to-interception ratio, and most air yards per attempt. The only important career stat Justin Fields doesn’t take the cake in is completion percentage, where Dwayne Haskins edged him out.
Terrelle Pryor may be fast, and he and Troy Smith may have racked up more yardage on the ground, but neither could compare to Fields as a pocket passer. Dwayne Haskins had some success as a passer for OSU, but he can’t scratch Justin Fields’ athleticism, he’s not even as athletic as Craig Krenzel. Long story short the stats clearly indicate that Justin Fields is the most athletic, efficient, dual-threat quarterback OSU has seen in the past 20 years, and maybe ever.
The other notable trait separating Justin Fields from the rest of the pack is that he can make every throw asked of a NFL prospect. Dwayne Haskins was the closest thing to Fields in terms of arm talent, but again it doesn’t come close. Haskins was never asked to make the throws that Fields routinely made.
Justin Fields’ 2020 performance against Nebraska was phenomenal. In one game, Justin Fields checks all the boxes that you want a first-round quarterback to have. The five clips above show skills that translate to the NFL. The first play is a 4th and 5. Justin Fields recognizes the blitz and sees the man coverage. He knows that linebacker has no shot to cover the slot. As soon as the receiver crosses the linebacker’s face, Fields delivers a perfect ball.
Justin Fields also has unbelievable accuracy outside the hashes and throws out of play action with special anticipation. The second clip is more of a routine play for Justin Fields at this point in his career. In any Ohio State game you watch, you’ll see Justin Fields throw a 25-yard missile to a receiver in stride out of play action. The following play is just a routine gritty scramble. The protection breaks down. Justin Fields has defensive lineman draped all over him and he still breaks free and finishes the scramble by pushing the pile a few yards.
The last two plays warrant different results, but are equally accurate. The nicest part of Justin Fields game is his deep ball accuracy. Justin Fields understands ball placement and he has the ability to manipulate the velocity of his throws. This is something Mitchell Trubisky lacked and why things could be different for the Bears with Justin Fields. Mitchell Trubisky wasn’t as bad as he was made out to be, but he threw everything on a line. It seemed like he only threw fastballs. Justin Fields has that instinctive ability to take a little off or put a little on. It’s an intangible trait that Justin Fields has that I’m not sure can be taught.
Justin Fields isn’t a perfect prospect. He took care of the ball in college, but windows get tighter in the NFL and he’ll throw up enough Jay Cutler balls to notice. Justin Fields scored in the top 1% of the mental aptitude test and went to his second read more than any other quarterback in college football last year, but he will still be a rookie. It’s unrealistic to expect Justin Fields to come in and start making full field reads and running an advanced scheme.
Matt Nagy has to learn from the mistakes he made with Mitchell Trubisky. Justin Fields is a more pro-ready prospect, with more advanced tools, and less limitations than Mitchell Trubisky, but still needs to be put in the best position possible.
In theory, Justin Fields and Matt Nagy should mesh. Matt Nagy wants to run a downfield attack and Justin Fields can deliver that. Matt Nagy’s offense never found a way to impose it’s will on a defense with Mitchell Trubisky. It seemed like every time things started falling off course, Matt Nagy would go into a shell. Many blame that on Mitchell Trubisky, but now Matt Nagy has his quarterback.
There are no more excuses. Justin Fields shouldn’t be running the Matt Nagy offense. Rather, Matt Nagy should be developing the Justin Fields offense. Justin Fields is lethal off play action and that requires a commitment to the running game. The Bears have beefed up the offensive line with Teven Jenkins and have a stable of running backs, so it looks like they are trending in that direction.
Justin Fields has what it takes to be the first true franchise quarterback for the Chicago Bears in the modern era. The Chicago media isn’t for the faint of heart, and Justin Fields has been unbothered by the media since he was a teenager. Ohio State hasn’t put out a quarterback prospect like Justin Fields. The Chicago Bears have never acquired a quarterback like Justin Fields. If Justin Fields’ NCAA success translates to the NFL, he will break two of the biggest stigmas in sports history.
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