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ESPN Predicts Bears’ Justin Fields to Lead NFL in Interceptions

Mike Clay’s 2022 NFL Projection Guide predicts Fields will throw 16 interceptions.

Justin Fields Chicago Bears
Photo: Jon Durr/USA TODAY Sports

There are plenty of expectations for Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields as he enters his second NFL season. But ESPN’s Mike Clay has projected an expectation that Bears fans won’t want to Fields fulfill. Clay’s NFL Projection Guide predicts Fields will throw 16 interceptions, the most of all quarterbacks during the 2022 season.

Analyzing Justin Fields’ Interception Factors

Last year, Justin Fields did struggle with turnovers. He tossed 10 interceptions and coughed up 12 fumbles, though at least four of those were recovered.

For a closer look at interceptions, fellow On Tap Sports Net contributor Quinten Krzysko (aka @ButkusStats) put together a detailed breakdown of every Justin Fields interception from the 2021 season. Looking at the analysis, Fields’ interceptions were classified into three categories: QB mistakes, wide receiver mistakes, and “interceptions happen” (i.e. end-of-game desperation throws). Fields’ QB mistakes accounted for only 5.5 of the 10 picks.

Entering the 2022 campaign, the Bears have made some significant changes that should help Fields keep the ball out of defenders’ hands. First, and perhaps most importantly, Matt Nagy and his lackluster offensive scheme are gone.

Additionally, the Bears have beefed up their offensive line by adding Lucas Patrick and Braxton Jones to the mix. Teven Jenkins will be healthy as well. His presence paired with the new bodies up front should give Fields more time in the pocket. Furthermore, Fields’ decision-making will be more refined with a year of experience under his belt.

However, the aforementioned changes do not address the wide receivers’ impact on interceptions. The Bears’ core wideouts were frequently injured last season. And even when he was healthy, Allen Robinson seemed to have one foot out the door.

Wide Receivers Are The Great Unknown

Entering 2022, the Chicago Bears’ receiving corps is a young and hungry group but may be outmatched.

Darnell Mooney has developed some nice chemistry with Justin Fields, but is he a No. 1 wide receiver? N’Keal Harry has joined the mix, but the former first-round pick’s time with the Patriots wasn’t anything to write home about. Byron Pringle came over from Kansas City, where Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce occupied plenty of defenders’ attention.

Equanimeous St. Brown presents a climb-the-ladder option for Fields, but he must maintain consistency to see ample playing time. Rookie Velus Jones Jr. is one of several options that could make some noise, but his NFL potential remains unknown at the moment.

Only time will tell if the youth of the group will result in inexperienced mistakes or a ferocious hunger to prove critics wrong and help their quarterback.

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