Opinion: Bears put Justin Fields in position to fail, just like they've done with previous QBs

·4 min read

Anyone surprised at how awful Justin Fields’ first NFL start went hasn’t been paying attention to the Chicago Bears the last few years.

The first-round pick and the Bears were abysmal against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, there’s no getting around that. They managed all of 1 yard passing, and a total of six first downs. Fields was sacked a whopping nine times, with Myles Garrett having 4½ of those. The 26-6 loss was not nearly as close as the final score indicated.

“I, obviously, as a head coach did not do a good enough job of getting this offense ready to go. It starts with me, ends with me. Simple as that,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said.

“Just everything,” he added. “Whether it’s the scheme, making sure guys are ready and locked in, the execution part. … In the end, there’s a responsibility and accountability to make sure you have your guys ready.”

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett reaches for Bears QB Justin Fields in the third quarter. Fields was sacked nine times Sunday.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett reaches for Bears QB Justin Fields in the third quarter. Fields was sacked nine times Sunday.

And Nagy didn’t. Again.

The Bears have had a revolving door at quarterback for much of the last 30 years, but the shortcomings at the game’s most important position have been particularly glaring these last five years. Mike Glennon. Mitchell Trubisky. Nick Foles. Andy Dalton. And, now, Fields.

There is a common denominator in all that bad quarterbacking, and it’s not the guys under center.

Chicago’s front office and its coaching staff have failed in both getting the right people and doing the right things with the good ones they do. It is a perpetual cycle, and Fields is going to be the next to get chewed up and spit out if the Bears don’t fix it.

Fast, given the Las Vegas Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks still loom on the schedule.

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“I’m not used to this. I don’t like feeling like this,” Fields said. “… It feels like you’re in a dark space, and you want to do everything you can to get a win (going forward).”

But this is bigger than Fields.

Fields, who was the 11th pick in April, might well end up being the steal of this year’s draft. He has both the physical tools and mental makeup to be a big-time quarterback, and he has proven himself under pressure. He lost just two games in two seasons at Ohio State, and he outplayed eventual-No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence in the Sugar Bowl.

Talent only goes so far in the NFL, however.

Fields needs an offensive line that won’t get pushed around like rag dolls.

Jason Peters is probably a Hall of Famer, a two-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowler at left tackle. But he is also 39, and has played just one full season since 2016. Yet this is the guy general manager Ryan Pace is trusting to protect his franchise quarterback.

Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, who had two sacks, showed what a bad gamble that was, and future opponents will no doubt take note.

Fields also needs a coach who is going to develop a scheme that will play to his strengths, not jam him into an existing one. Time and again Sunday, Nagy kept Fields in the pocket rather than moving him outside of it to take advantage of his mobility and vision. This is why the Bears got Fields, remember? Because if you have a quarterback who can move, who can take advantage of things as they open up downfield, it will keep defenses honest and eventually result in some big plays.

Like, say, that 18-yard gain to Allen Robinson in the third quarter. Or the other long ball intended for Robinson that resulted in a defensive pass interference call that got the Bears into the red zone for the one and only time all game.

Instead, Nagy seemed determined to stick with the game plan he would have drawn up for Dalton had the veteran not been ruled out with a bone bruise.

“This is not going to damage his development because I know who he is,” Nagy said. “He’s very coachable, he cares.”

That’s not the point. It is the job of Pace, Nagy and their staffs to give Fields the best chance to succeed, and they didn’t do that.

Just as they didn’t with any of the other quarterbacks they’ve had under their watch.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Justin Fields put in position to fail by the Bears, like previous QBs

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