Perhaps his day was saved by that final drive that saw Justin Fields march the Chicago Bears down the field, going 5-for-6 and finding DJ Moore in the endzone for a meaningless and yet still-needed touchdown. Before that, Fields was 6-for-16 with just 51 passing yards and an interception on the day.
This after a week that saw the quarterback note that he felt he wasn’t playing his type of game, overthinking the lessons he was being taught.
In Sunday’s 41-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, very little if anything was different. But the Bears’ grades from this game courtesy of Pro Football Focus, while not gospel by any means, do paint a very telling picture of an organization that could be on the brink of making a monumental decision:
Potentially moving on from Justin Fields
PFF Grades Show Justin Fields 2nd Best Bears Player in Week 3
Fields checked in with the second-highest grade of the game for the Bears in Week 3, finishing just behind fullback Khari Blasingame with a 69.9 overall score. The third-year passer also recorded a 69.2 passing grade, marking his best game of the season, per PFF, despite him attempting his fewest passing attempts and throwing for his fewest yards of the season so far.
His passing grade is the third-best mark of his career, and the overall grade his best since Week 16 of last season.
After the game, Fields was at a loss for the reason behind his struggles this season. But he did note that defenses had a plan for him – Sunday that was Kansas City using a spy – and that it was working.
For all of his struggles, a couple of former players came to his defense in one form or another.
“The Bears offensive tape is a disaster,” posted former NFL quarterback-turned-ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky on September 24. “And Fields is the least of the issues.”
Stuff like this just doesn’t make sense to me pic.twitter.com/djIg5FxzaG
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) September 24, 2023
“You can’t fix it until the season, probably, is over,” Hall-of-Famer and Fox Sports analyst Terry Bradshaw said after the game. “They’re not going to fire their coach in the middle of the season, that’s not their style. I do believe if this continues, and it looks like it will, they’re going to get a new coach.”
Offensive Line Woes Amid Injuries
Chicago used its third starting offensive line combination of the season with Larry Borom taking over for the injured Braxton Jones (IR, neck) and Ja’Tyre Carter reprising his role in place of Nate Davis who was active but in a backup role after missing most of the week’s practices.
On Sunday, Carter received the second-lowest grade of the afternoon, finishing ahead of only wide receiver Darnell Mooney who had just one target that went incomplete.
Chase Claypool, Lucas Patrick, and Cody Whitehair also finished with bottom-six grades. But it wasn’t because of their pass-blocking with all three linemen contributing positively to the team’s highest pass-blocking grade of the season. Was that because of Fields’ late drive or vice versa?
What happened to the league’s best rushing attack from 2022?
The Bears are still without starting left guard Teven Jenkins and having rookie right tackle Darnell Wright learn on the fly. That pushed Whitehair back to guard after he worked at center throughout training camp. After previously brushing aside the concerns over a lack of preseason reps, head coach Matt Eberflus pointed to the lack thereof due to injuries as a hindrance.
"I think maybe it was because of the preseason… because of all the injuries, we maybe didn't get a chance to play together, to practice together… That could be a reason, but I'm not making an excuse, we should be farther ahead"
On why the Bears have been so sloppy
— 79th & Halas Podcast (@79thAndHalas) September 24, 2023
A week of turmoil leading up to a showdown against the reigning champions was always a recipe for disaster. Being unable to get the running game established because of the early deficit did not help matters. How the Bears navigate the next few weeks will be critical, for the organization and Fields.
Bears Schedule Lightens Up
While the Chiefs in Arrowhead were going to be a tough ask regardless, it appears that the league underestimated the stability around Jordan Love easing his transition. Likewise, Baker Mayfield’s assimilation into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been more fruitful than anticipated leaving the Bears’ opening salvo less depressing, if only slightly.
But they have three games against teams who failed to make the playoffs last season in the next four weeks, starting at home with the Denver Broncos in Week 4.
Three of their next four opponents are also winless; the other has quarterback issues of its own.