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Justin Fields on pace to break Lamar Jackson’s single-season rushing record

Andrew Buller-Russ

Woah. Where did that come from? This has been the response for most who have had a chance to witness the rapid ascension of Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields over the past several weeks.

While the talent level of Fields has never been in question. He was an ‘elite’ quarterback in college playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes, where he led the team to a College Football National Championship appearance. This helped him become the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, showing that pro-level evaluators were quite high on the QB.

Except, ever since he arrived at Arlington Park, the Bears haven’t exactly fostered a positive, winning environment for their now-23-year-old dual-threat. It likely hasn’t helped that the general manager and head coach who were in place when Fields was selected have since been let go, but we hadn’t really seen the Bears commit to their young gunslinger in any kind of way.

First they ignored the offensive line in free agency and during the draft, and then they seemingly did the same at the receiver positions, aside from having Darnell Mooney gifted from the previous regime as well. Sure, a bigger, more recent effort was made by trading for Chase Claypool, but from a passing perspective, it might be too little, too late to build chemistry this season.

However, it hasn’t mattered that Fields hasn’t joined some of the other young signal-callers in having big days through the air. It’s what the fleet-footed QB has done with his legs that has been far, far more impressive.

Related: Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields makes NFL history in breakout performance

Justin Fields making case to be best running QB in NFL

NFL: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Fields has been phenomenal at moving the chains either on designed runs or simply by scrambling when all else fails. Ever since offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has given Fields a longer leash, calling more rushing plays for his QB, we’ve seen the 6-foot-3 athlete take off, both literally and figuratively.

While Getsy wasn’t on hand for Fields’ rookie season, when he made 10 starts, the Bears still limited him to just one game with double-digit rushing attempts. Through the first five starts of his sophomore NFL season, we saw Fields top 10 attempts on the ground just once, which was actually in his season debut back in Week 1.

Yet, ever since Week 6, we’ve seen Fields get a lot more carries, where he’s averaged 12.4 attempts compared to 8.4 in his first five starts. What has he done with these extra touches?

Chances are you already know, but it’s been historic.

According to NFL.com, Fields’ 555 rushing yards in his past five games are the most by any QB in the Super Bowl era. This recent spark now has Fields on track to break Lamar Jackson’s single-season rushing record of 1,206 yards, set during his MVP season in 2019. Fields is averaging 74.9 rushing yards per game, putting him on pace for 1,273 yards in a 17-game season.

It’s still relatively early, but Jackson may always hold bragging rights no matter what, as he accomplished the feat in just 15 games, but Fields is only getting started with his career.

While Fields has certainly seen his rushing numbers drastically increase over his past five games, this is still a small sample, and there’s no guarantee he can continue his pace of 111 yards per game in that same stretch.

Either way, what Fields has done recently should be celebrated, even if the Bears aren’t having more success, because, for the first time in decades, they may actually have a solution under center.

Now, if only we could get this young man some more receivers in addition to a better protection scheme to see all aspects of his career take off.

No matter what, Fields is showing that he deserves serious consideration to be regarded as one of, if not the best, running QB in football. And who knows, maybe by the end of this season, he might already hold that title.

Related: How high has Justin Fields climbed in our NFL QB Rankings?