It might have taken a knee injury for Andy Dalton for the Chicago Bears to finally give rookie quarterback Justin Fields the starting gig. But there’s absolutely no going back now. Chicago traded a plethora of draft capital back in April to move up to the 11th pick and select the Ohio State product.
Fields’ presence on the draft board after the top 10 caught a lot of people by surprise. He was even being considered at No. 3 overall by the San Francisco 49ers after the kid put up 86 total touchdowns against nine interceptions in college.
Now that the Bears’ decision was made for itself, Fields has an opportunity to prove that he’s a franchise type quarterback starting this week against the Cleveland Browns. Here’s a look at three reasons why the youngster will succeed.
Justin Fields provides the Chicago Bears a dual-threat ability
This is something embattled head coach Matt Nagy has not had since he left the Kansas City Chiefs. That is to say, someone who can tuck the ball and run.
During his two seasons as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback Fields gained 867 yards and scored 15 touchdowns on the ground. For comparison’s sake, that’s about 500 less rushing yards than Dalton has put up in his decade-plus in the NFL.
With this threat readily apparent, running back David Montgomery will be less of a focal point of opposing defenses. The third-year back is averaging 4.7 yards on 36 attempts thus far this season. He already seems to have taken that next step.
Justin Fields’ downfield passing ability
Over the course of his college career dating back to his days with Georgia, Fields averaged a robust 10.7 yards per pass attempt. The competition might not be comparable, but Dalton’s career average of 7.0 yards per attempt is nowhere close to this mark.
The tape also tells us a story of a quarterback in Fields who loves to open up the offense. He’s dissimilar to the quarterback who went immediately after him in the 2021 NFL Draft, Mac Jones of the New England Patriots. We’re not talking about someone who is going to dink and dunk his way down the field. That will help the likes of Allen Robinson perform at a higher clip moving forward.
Justin Fields is not a turnover machine
As we saw last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago’s defense is among the best in the NFL. It forces turnovers at a high clip, can get to the quarterback and provides solid pass coverage ability in the back end.
Why does this equate to Justin Fields having success? It’s rather simple. If the young quarterback doesn’t turn the ball over, Chicago will find itself in playoff contention throughout the season. Controlling the clock and winning the turnover battle will lead to victories on a consistent basis. In 618 collegiate pass attempts, Fields threw nine interceptions. Outside of Trey Lance, he was the least turnover-prone quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. That will help the youngster succeed out of the gate.