This season is going to be a first for the Chicago Bears. So says third-year quarterback Justin Fields who has vowed to do something this coming season that has never been done in franchise history: throw for at least 4000 yards.
“I will. I plan on doing it this year, too,” Fields said when asked directly by Bryant McFadden of the ‘All Things Covered Podcast’ presented by CBS Sports on July 20.
Justin Fields Vows to Be Bears’ First 4000-Yard Passer
The Bears are the NFL’s second-oldest franchise right behind the Arizona (formerly Chicago) Cardinals. They are also the only franchise to never have had a quarterback throw for at least 4000 yards in a single season. Erik Kramer came the closest in 1995 with 3,838 years and Jay Cutler’s 3,812 in 2014 ranks second.
Fields passed for 2,242 yards in 2022.
He is one of just six quarterbacks in league history to start at least 15 games and still pass for fewer than 2300 yards in a single season, per Stathead. Fields joins former Bears Kyle Orton and Jim MacMahon as the only three players to do so since 1979, though he tops the list.
The former Ohio State pocket passer added 1,143 yards on the ground. That is the second-most in NFL history and just the fourth time a quarterback has surpassed the century mark.
“He’s probably the best running quarterback I’ve seen,” San Francisco 49ers EDGE rusher Nick Bosa told NFL Films for the ‘Top 100 Players of 2023’ with the initial set of rankings slated to premiere on July 24. “Like Mike Vick out there. I think his throwing ability is going to keep getting better.”
"He's probably the best running quarterback I've seen." –@nbsmallerbear
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) July 20, 2023
There were certainly signs of Fields’ progress as last season wore on. Signs that reinforce the things his coaches have said this offseason regarding his progress.
Justin Fields’ Made Marked Progress Last Season
Following a Week 6 loss to the Washington Commanders, Fields said he was tired of the offense being “close”. They lost 12-7. To that point in the season, he had thrown for 869 yards on 115 passes. He had four touchdown passes to five interceptions.
“We always get told that we are almost there, almost there. Me personally, I’m tired of being almost there.”
– Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) October 14, 2022
He would pass for 1,373 yards on 203 attempts over his final nine appearances with 13 passing scores to six picks.
Fields had 27 “bad throws” in each stretch, dropping his bad throw rate from 23.4% to 13.3%.
This was despite his passing attempts increasing in the latter half of the season. They went from 19.1 per game to 22.5 in the final nine weeks. He also saw a slight uptick in his carries from 9.0 to 10.6. That led to some fatigue as the year wound down. It’s just another reason his continued progress as a passer is imperative.
Bears Share Jaguars’ Interest in Steeler’s Castoff
“Jaguars and Bears are among teams that have inquired on free agent corner Arthur Maulet, who requested and was granted his release from Pittsburgh in May,” tweeted ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler on July 20. “Maulet — who had 59 tackles, two sacks, and an INT last year — is weighing options and plans to be with a team for camp.”
The 5-foot-10 Maulet, 30, spent the past two seasons with the Steelers. He started eight of his 33 appearances including six this past season. He recorded 59 total tackles, including two for loss, with one interception and three deflections in 2022.
Maulet, though, could be the backup nickel behind Gordon in the slot.
Helps that he's coming on a blitz, but love the relentless backside pursuit shown by Arthur Maulet on this WR screen.
— Tyler Wise (@TriggeredWise) October 12, 2022
Gordon was the second of Chicago’s two second-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. He missed three games as a rookie due to injury leaving an already spotty (and thin) Bears defense that much worse off. The 6-foot Gordon has also said that he still misses playing on the outside. Bringing in Maulet could be a way to get him some reps there without losing anything in the slot.
Maulet is a former undrafted free agent out of the University of Memphis in 2017. He spent time with the Indianapolis Colts in 2018 where he played under Bears head coach Matt Eberflus, then the Colts’ defensive coordinator.
He’s also suited up for the New Orleans Saints and the New York Jets.