Justin Fields is the Chicago Bears franchise quarterback — or at least the hope is he will be once he is named the starter.
We’re tracking the first-round pick’s performance in every game of his rookie season.
Preseason game No. 1: Bears 20, Dolphins 13
The first big boost to Justin Fields mania didn’t arrive until the third quarter Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field.
The Bears rookie quarterback evaded Dolphins linebacker Tyshun Render near the 15-yard line, sprinted to his left and then lowered his shoulder to plow into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown run.
Bears fans who likely had been taking deep, calming breaths and reminding themselves it was only the preseason opener for most of the first half let loose with excitement.
Fields’ NFL preseason debut didn’t get off to a pretty start, but the first-round draft pick did enough by the time he left the game to keep the hype train rolling.
In about two quarters of work, Fields completed 14 of 20 passes for 142 yards and a 30-yard touchdown to Jesse James and rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Even if it was against Dolphins backups, it was enough to further the conversation about whether Fields is going to push Bears coaches to start him over veteran Andy Dalton early in the regular season.
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Preseason game No. 2: Bills 41, Bears 15
The second preseason game was not a pleasant experience for Bears fans, who not only watched the quarterback the Bears discarded — Mitch Trubisky — light it up but also didn’t get their desired first glimpse of Justin Fields until the second half. They at one point booed Bears starting quarterback Andy Dalton, who finished his two quarters 11-for-17 for 146 yards, a 73-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Adams and an interception.
Fields (9-for-19, 80 yards, a 59.1 passer rating) was far from spectacular in the second half and certainly was not as impressive as he was in his preseason debut against the Dolphins. He also made a rookie mistake in the fourth quarter, failing to account for a blitz from Bills linebacker Andre Smith, who crushed Fields, sent his helmet flying and forced a fumble. A roughing-the-passer penalty negated the damage of that mistake. But it was a reminder that Fields must continue to work around his inexperience, especially after he produced only nine points on 34 plays over six second-half possessions.
Before the game, Trubisky greeted Fields, whom he said he first met when Fields visited North Carolina as a high schooler.
Trubisky even had some advice for the player who replaced him as Chicago’s great quarterback hope.
“Just my advice to him and really to anybody is to work hard and treat people right and good things will happen,” he said. “He’s a talented kid. He’s going to do well.”
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Preseason game No. 3: Bears 27, Titans 24
Justin Fields darted to the right out of the pocket and focused on the Nissan Stadium end zone as Titans defensive lineman Teair Tart chased him.
The Bears rookie quarterback saw tight end Jesper Horsted behind two defenders and fired the pass, which Horsted reached to grab before he rolled out of the end zone.
The 20-yard touchdown pass with 52 seconds to play in the second quarter was Fields’ final play of his first NFL preseason. It was a nice ending to an otherwise modest outing, something for Bears fans to hold on to until they see the first-round pick in game action again.
That date is marked as TBD.
After Fields completed 7 of 10 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 13 yards on two carries in a 27-24 victory over the Titans, he returns to Lake Forest as the backup to Andy Dalton. Bears coach Matt Nagy has pledged over and over again to start the veteran Dalton in the season opener Sept. 12 against the Rams, and Fields’ performance in the third preseason game wasn’t going to change that.
Justin Fields’ final preseason play is a touchdown pass in a 27-24 win vs. the Titans. Now the wait begins.
Week 1: Rams 34, Rams 14
Justin Fields played only five snaps in the Week 1, though Matt Nagy noted the game situation — with the Bears behind early and getting into the two-minute offense — limited some of those snaps. Fields’ NFL debut came on the fourth offensive play, a run-pass option that he turned into a 9-yard pass down the right sideline to Marquise Goodwin to get to the Rams 3-yard line.
That and the touchdown run were the two most successful plays. The others, including a shovel pass to Allen Robinson for a gain of 1 yard in the third quarter, were less notable.
Three of the plays were in the red zone. The rest of the time Fields said he acted as if he were in the game, repeating the play call when it came through as if calling it in the huddle and keeping his legs warm in case Nagy called upon him.
Fields said the limited opportunities weren’t difficult to handle because they had been going over the scenarios in practice.
“You get a feel about the atmosphere, see how fast those guys are coming,” Fields said. “It’s different when you’re actually on the field rather than being on the sideline, so you just get that experience on there. Just being out there, just getting used to the speed and stuff.”
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Week 2: Bears 20, Bengals 17
On third-and-9 with the Bears clinging to a three-point lead at Soldier Field, Justin Fields saw “a big, wide hole” open to his left.
The rookie quarterback took off, slid through the grasp of Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson and beat defensive end Cam Sample to the first-down marker with 2 minutes, 45 seconds to play. David Montgomery followed with a pair of runs to gain another first down, and the Bears held on for a 20-17 victory.
Fields will have a lot to correct from his first extended NFL outing after he played the entire second half because of Andy Dalton’s knee injury, which still is being evaluated. Fields completed 6 of 13 passes for 60 yards, rushed 10 times for 31 yards and threw a fourth-quarter interception that the Bengals turned into a touchdown one play later.
But in a game that got a little too close for comfort at the end, that 10-yard scramble helped Fields finish on a high note and give the Bears (1-1) their first win of the season.
“I don’t think I’m pleased with how I played at all,” Fields said. “There’s a lot more in me that I have to show. That’s going to come with time. I know it’s not going to happen overnight, so I’m just going to keep grinding and no matter what happens, I know I’m meant for this. I’m meant to be here.”
The big question is whether Fields will have an opportunity to show more of what he can do in Week 3 in Cleveland.
“I’ll be prepared,” Fields said. “I’m going to do the same thing that I did this past week, and if Andy can’t go, then I’ll be getting reps with the first-team offense, so I think I’ll even be more prepared for that than I was today.”
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Week 3: Browns 26, Bears 6
As Justin Fields stood in a cramped media room underneath FirstEnergy Stadium after his first NFL start, the Chicago Bears rookie quarterback began to get goosebumps.
And not the good kind.
“The way I feel right now, I’m not used to this,” he said. “I don’t like feeling like this. … Literally while I’m saying this, I’m getting goosebumps because I just don’t like feeling like this. So I’m just going to get back and I’m going to work.”
Fields had never had a day quite like Sunday’s 26-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns, when the excitement of the first-round pick’s first full game was pummeled again and again into the field by the Browns’ nine sacks.
It started with 4 minutes, 18 seconds to play in the first quarter, when Jadeveon Clowney shoved past Bears right tackle Germain Ifedi to take down Fields for a loss of 10 yards.
Over the rest of the game, Fields had only one extended drive in which he wasn’t sacked. Myles Garrett set a Browns franchise record with 4½ sacks, which included easily running around left tackle Jason Peters. Clowney had two, and four other players chipped in.
Beyond that, Fields and the Bears didn’t find any rhythm as they netted 47 yards of offense. Fields completed 6 of 20 passes for 68 yards and no touchdowns and rushed for 12 yards on three carries. According to CBS, the Bears’ 1.1 yards per play was the second-worst average of any team this century.
Bumps are to be expected as Fields begins a journey the Bears hope will lead to him becoming the franchise quarterback, but he and coach Matt Nagy clearly were stunned at how bad it became Sunday.
“(It’s) kind of like you’re in a dark space and you just want to do everything you can to just get a win,” Fields said. “Like no matter what it is, no matter how long I have to stay in the facility. No matter what.”
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Week 4: Bears 24, Lions 14
A week after Justin Fields was sacked nine times and had 1 net passing yard, he completed 11 of 17 passes for 209 yards and one interception and was sacked once in the Week 4 win over the Lions. The rookie quarterback hit wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney with deep shots.
“I was just happy to see us get back on track this week and execute from the O-line to the receivers to the running backs to me, so it was a good day.”
During the week leading up to the game, Nagy declined to reveal who would be calling plays. But Nagy acknowledged after the game that offensive coordinator Bill Lazor handled it Sunday.
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Week 5: Bears 20, Raiders 9
In his first game since being named the starting quarterback going forward, Justin Fields tossed his first career touchdown pass in a 20-9 road victory over the Raiders.
Fields, who made his third straight start, played through a couple of hard hits to complete 12 of 20 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown — a 2-yarder to Jesper Horsted.
Fields turned in a gutsy performance, playing all but a few plays despite hyperextending his left knee in the second quarter.
“That son of a buck is tough,” coach Matt Nagy said of Fields. “He is tough. He’s proven that when he was in college. He proved it out here.”
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Week 6: Packers 24, Bears 14
Justin Fields saw Green Bay Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark jump before the ball was snapped late in the first quarter Sunday at Soldier Field and prepared to take a shot on what he assumed was a free play.
Fields moved to his right and ripped a deep pass well over Allen Robinson and into the end zone, where Packers safety Darnell Savage wrapped his arms around the football as he tumbled to the ground.
The play would have been no big deal if officials had penalized Clark for jumping offside — except a penalty wasn’t called. Savage had intercepted Fields.
“When he picked it off, I was confused on why there weren’t any flags on the ground,” Fields said. “So I don’t know if the refs just missed that or he didn’t jump offside or what.”
Instead of the Bears getting a 5-yard penalty in their favor, the interception swung momentum away from the Bears in the 24-14 loss to the Packers.
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Week 7: Buccaneers 38, Bears 3
Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields threw three interceptions and committed five turnovers in a disastrous 38-3 loss to the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
He completed 22 of 32 passes for 184 yards with no touchdowns and the three interceptions. He was sacked four times.
He didn’t come across as downcast talking about the loss afterward, but the CBS cameras certainly captured him on the sideline in a dour mood.
“It’s not just one thing. It’s a bunch of things,” Fields said. “I’m just going to leave it at that. We’ve got to continue to work. I mean, times like this, times when you get blown out, you’ve got two choices — you can either say, ‘F it, I’m going to stop. I’m going to stop working. I’m going to stop playing.’ Or you can go the other route and say, ‘I’m going to keep working.’ And I know me, myself, no matter how many picks I throw, no matter how many L’s we take, I’m going to keep going. That’s just the fact and that’s just who I am. Never going to stop and I’m always going to keep going.
“It’s not really anger. It’s just like … I’ve never been in this position where I’m losing, so I don’t know how to feel. My only reaction to this is just to keep working. I’m not angry at all. At the end of the day, it happened. We have bad days. Y’all have bad days. And y’all can either get depressed or y’all can get up the next day and go to work. And I think that’s what our team is going to do and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not angry at all. Just (bad stuff) happens.”
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Week 8: 49ers 33, Bears 22
When Justin Fields hopped across the goal line in the south end zone at Soldier Field and flung the football into the air in celebration, the moment felt significant.
Yes, to the Bears fans who screamed in appreciation of Fields’ insane 22-yard touchdown scramble but also to the rookie quarterback himself.
“Yeah, I’m not going to lie, that was awesome,” Fields said. “I was excited, as y’all could see.”
If there was a silver lining to the Bears’ 33-22 loss to the 49ers, it was that Fields had some of the spectacular plays fans have dreamed about since the Bears drafted him at No. 11 in the spring.
Fields completed 19 of 27 passes for 175 yards and an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jesse James. The Bears rookie also finally let loose on the ground, totaling 103 yards on 10 carries, including four runs of 15 yards or more, against a 49ers defense that has had much better success slowing opponents’ passing games.
He is the second Bears quarterback since at least 1960 to hit 100 or more rushing yards, dating to Bobby Douglass, who did it three times.
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Week 9: Steelers 29, Bears 27
After kicker Chris Boswell made a 52-yard field goal to put the Steelers up by six points late in the fourth quarter at Heinz Field, Bears coach Matt Nagy looked down the sideline at Justin Fields.
The Bears rookie quarterback was smiling.
“My mindset was like, ‘It’s time. We’re here,’” Fields said. “You can be the guy who always gets put in that position and doesn’t show up. Or you can be that guy who shows up in big moments. That’s what my mindset was. I was just calm and focused on showing up.”
Over the next 1 minute, 6 seconds on the play clock, Fields showed up.
He led the Bears on a seven-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney to take the first Bears lead of the game.
“(Fields) stepped up and made a lot of plays, A-Rob as well, Mooney, all those guys, and honestly and truly, we let those guys down,” inside linebacker Roquan Smith said after the 29-27 loss.
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Week 11: Ravens 16, Bears 13
For those Bears fans hanging on through this 3-7 season because they at least can watch rookie quarterback Justin Fields’ growth, the 16-13 loss to the Ravens was like taking a helmet to the gut.
Fields missed most of the second half at Soldier Field after suffering injured ribs, and his status is in question for Thursday’s game against the Lions at Ford Field.
Bears coach Matt Nagy was typically evasive with his answers about Fields’ injury after the game.
He said he didn’t know if Fields’ ribs are broken, whether the injury happened on one play or was a result of several hits or if there is a chance Fields could recover in time for the Thanksgiving game.
Fields’ final play was a 6-yard run with 12:12 to play in the third quarter. Ravens linebacker Tyus Bowser hit Fields and then pulled him down by his leg. Fields walked to the sideline and spent a couple of minutes talking with Bears training staff before heading into the injury tent and then the locker room.
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Week 12: Bears 16, Lions 14
“We’re really fortunate that it’s nothing long-term; it’s definitely not an IR thing,” said Bears general manager Ryan Pace on his pregame show on WBBM-AM 780. “It’s more of a day-to-day thing. We’ll get through this game. The good thing about it is you’ll have some extra time after this game to re-evaluate, not just Justin but some other guys, get them healthy, and get them ready to roll.”
Bears coach Matt Nagy said earlier this week he didn’t know whether the injury was from a single play or multiple hits. Fields left the Week 11 loss to the Ravens early in the third quarter after he was taken down on a 6-yard run.
The Thanksgiving game was the first game Fields has missed since he took over as Bears starter for then-injured Andy Dalton in Week 3. In relief work, Dalton completed 24 of 39 passes for 317 yards, a touchdown and an interception to lead the Bears to the victory over the winless Lions.