The Ohio State Buckeyes have had two coaches in the last six years, and this season they hired a third. The new coach has been described as “brilliant,” but there is one major obstacle he will need to overcome: playing for an awful head coach.
Justin Fields is a graduate transfer at Penn State. He had an impressive career with the Buckeyes and he made his decision to leave for him because of Coach Franklin’s insistence on running more spread offense than Ohio State fans wanted. How will this affect Jim Harbaugh?
Justin Fields is a quarterback who has been talked about as a potential top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. He is also a player that already has to overcome an obstacle that goes beyond being on an awful head coach.
Playing quarterback in the NFL at a high level is a difficult task.
It’s much more difficult when you’re 22 and haven’t competed against amateur athletes in nine months.
In addition to his age and inexperience, Justin Fields has additional things working against him. In addition to playing for one of the worst head coaches in the NFL, the new face of the Chicago Bears has another significant challenge as he attempts to turn around a team that has been looking for an answer at the most important position in sports for what seems like an eternity.
Justin Fields has an uphill fight in Chicago to turn things around.
Justin Fields is under a lot of pressure to lead a Bears offense that will be without running back David Montgomery for roughly a month. | Getty Images/Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire
The Andy Dalton era came to a close on Wednesday. Matt Nagy ultimately chose to debut Fields as his starting quarterback with the Bears sitting at 2-2.
Fields has a tough task to live up to sky-high expectations in Chicago, with the fourth-year head coach speeding up the transition timetable. While the former Ohio State standout has interesting physical tools and a lot of potential, he’ll need time to grow and learn the subtleties of playing the position professionally. He’ll have to learn on the job now as he attempts to guide the Bears to their first winning season since 2013.
Will the rookie develop into a star in the future?
It’s difficult not to be enthusiastic about Fields’ NFL future based on some of the highlight-reel plays he’s made this season. However, it’s debatable if he’s in the appropriate environment.
After all, the 6-foot-3, 227-pound quarterback joins a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since Jan. 16, 2011. Fields also plays for a coach who has been in a downward spiral.
Aside from playing for a terrible head coach, the Bears’ new starting quarterback has a big challenge.
Andy Dalton had a tense discussion with me. It was obviously tough and difficult yesterday to choose Justin Fields as the starter going forward. Fields’ ability to open up the offense by throwing downfield is an appealing attribute. In addition, RB David Montgomery’s knee injury has been confirmed by @WBBMNewsradio.
6 October 2021 — Jeff Joniak (@JeffJoniak)
Nagy has drawn fair criticism for his strange handling of the quarterback issue, as well as his team’s complete lack of offensive competence (the Bears are dead last in total yards), and has created serious doubts about his ability to perform his job effectively. Plus, finishing 8-8 in back-to-back seasons took away some of the luster from his first season as coach, when he went 12-4.
It’s tough for Fields to play for someone who can’t seem to figure out how to run even a mediocre offense. The Bears have finished 29th and 22nd after having the ninth-best scoring offense in 2018. Nagy’s squad is presently ranked 30th in the league, averaging 16 points per game.
As if the coaching situation wasn’t difficult enough, Fields now had to contend with the unavailability of starting running back David Montgomery.
The 2019 third-round pick piled up 106 yards and two touchdowns in Chicago’s 24-14 Week 4 victory against the Detroit Lions, coming off a 1,000-yard season. He won’t be back on the field for a long, however.
Montgomery is expected to miss four to five weeks due to a damaged left knee, according to ESPN. Outside of Allen Robinson, the Bears offense is severely lacking in high-end playmakers, thus this is a devastating blow. Fields’ life has become considerably more difficult as a result of his injuries.
Nagy may have little option but to increase the number of passing plays if he doesn’t have a reliable running back to rely on. However, if defenses don’t have to worry about the run, Fields can expect to be under a lot of pressure, which isn’t ideal for a rookie quarterback. In addition, only the Tennessee Titans have surrendered more sacks (17) than the Bears (16).
As a result of Montgomery’s injury, Chicago’s attack may become more one-dimensional. And, even if Fields racks up running yards due to his 4.4-inch wheels, does Nagy really want his new starter to take any chances?
The first-year quarterback has the raw potential to develop into a top-flight player, but he’s entering a less-than-ideal environment. However, when contrasted to some of the issues that other rookie quarterbacks face, Montgomery’s situation doesn’t seem to be as severe.
Fields isn’t the only first-year quarterback who has to deal with adversity.
Isn’t it always possible for things to become worse? If Fields becomes upset with Nagy and the Bears’ undermanned offense, he should remind himself that.
At the very least, he doesn’t live in Jacksonville.
Although selecting No. 1 overall made Trevor Lawrence a wealthy young man, his signing with the Jaguars did not put him in a position to succeed right away. Urban Meyer has rapidly proved to be a complete failure, and the team is still at least two years away from being championship-caliber — and even that may be stretching it.
Zach Wilson joined a New York Jets team that tried all it could to sabotage Sam Darnold’s growth. Will the AFC East club escape squandering yet another bright future? Will Wilson’s talents be stifled by a poor supporting cast as well?
Meanwhile, the offensive line of the New England Patriots has struggled to keep Mac Jones out of harm’s path. They haven’t been able to create a solid play-action passing game that suits to his skills since the rushing game is practically non-existent.
Justin Fields isn’t the only rookie quarterback facing challenges in his quest for instant success. Only time will tell whether he and his classmates can overcome these early-career setbacks and establish themselves as permanent residents of their respective communities.
Pro Football Reference provided all statistics.
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Justin Fields has already made a major impact on the Ohio State football team during his time there. He is expected to be one of the best players in this year’s NFL draft. However, he will have to overcome an even bigger obstacle than playing for an awful head coach. Reference: justin fields bears practice.
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