It’s been a long and difficult struggle for the Chicago Bears to find a truly great quarterback. Rex Grossman was carried by a legendary defense. Jay Cutler never really transcended mediocrity. Mitchell Trubisky was an all-time misfire. And the history that precedes these names is somehow even uglier.
I don’t know if Justin Fields, now in his second season after being drafted 11th overall last year, is going to be the long-awaited answer to the Bears’ troubles. He had a rocky rookie year and has produced middling results for his 3-6 team when forced to actually throw the ball. But damn, was he fun to watch in Chicago’s 35-32 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday. Breaking Michael Vick’s record for most rushing yards by a QB in a regular-season game, the 23-year-old from Ohio State took over the entirety of the Bears’ offense, throwing for 123 yards and three touchdowns while running for 178 and an additional score, all with no turnovers.
Fields started the game with a pass-first mentality but leaned on the scramble in trickier third-down situations. Once Miami showed an inability to defend his legs, Fields could impose his will on the action. On this third-and-8, late in the first half, the Dolphins’ second level stayed planted at the line of scrimmage, waiting for the scramble, but instead Fields tossed a gorgeous pass beyond single coverage to Darnell Mooney in the corner of the end zone.
And that was before Fields even ripped off the highlight of the day! On another third down early in the next quarter, the QB dropped back, stepped up, had the guts to stop and tease a throw, and then somehow accelerated quickly enough to leave all the Dolphins in the dust. This ruled.
Tua Tagovailoa was commanding in the pocket for the Miami offense, and the defense came up big in a couple of key fourth-quarter spots, so Chicago came away from this one nursing their fifth loss in their last six games. But Fields at least provides some reason for hope. He’s still struggling with consistency, and he hasn’t yet shown that he can take over a game through the air. But even as Chicago stares down another disappointing season, Fields has become something even rarer than a playoff game in the Windy City: He is a Bears quarterback that I’m actually looking forward to watching again.