Justin Fields

Justin Fields issues heartfelt goodbye in case Packers loss is end of his era as Bears QB

Sunday's loss to the Packers might be the end of the Justin Fields era in Chicago

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Justin Fields walked off Lambeau Field on Sunday night and into an offseason of uncertainty.

The Bears' third-year quarterback has talked all season about focusing on the present and not worrying about the things he can't control. Fields was adamant that if he continued to make daily improvements and the wins came, everything would take care of itself.

But after Sunday's season-ending 17-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Fields has no game plan left to steal his attention—no opponent to focus on.

All that remains is what Bears general manager Ryan Poles decides is best for the Bears' future, be it sticking with Fields or trading him and drafting a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick.

This isn't new territory for Fields, who pointed out he faced the same type of uncertainty last offseason when the Bears owned the No. 1 pick.

"The thing is, we had the same topics and stuff last year," Fields said after the loss Sunday. "It’s not like we didn’t have the No. 1 pick last year. It’s going to be the same thing. Like I said, I control what I can control. I’m going to get healthy this offseason, spend time with my family, and get better. Like I said, we went through the same thing last year, we had the No. 1 pick, everybody was asking ‘what if? What if? What if?’ and nothing happened. I’m not saying that nothing might happen [this offseason] cause, shoot, we all don’t know. But I’m not going to let the potential or what if, what if not stress me from enjoying life and going through my everyday life."

Fields and the Bears' offense struggled mightily Sunday in Green Bay.

Missing starting center Lucas Patrick and right guard Nate Davis, Fields was sacked five times, and Green Bay notched 10 tackles for loss. Fields finished the game 11-for-16 for 148 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He rushed for only 27 yards.

It was Fields' 19th game over the last two seasons in which he failed to crack the 200-yard passing mark. It was his 12th game over the past two seasons in which he failed to get to 200 combined passing and rushing yards.

Fields showed growth as a passer this season. Of that, there's no doubt. His pocket presence improved, and the accuracy ticked up.

But it's tough to win consistently in the NFL when your quarterback hovers in the sub-200 passing world.

Fields said he's "only getting better" after the loss Sunday. The 24-year-old said he felt the growth this season and believes the arrow is pointing up for him and that the best is coming, whether in Chicago or elsewhere.

Fields did his best to make his final case to Poles over the last seven games. The Bears put their faith in him last offseason when they traded the No. 1 pick to the Carolina Panthers, passing on Bryce Young on C.J. Stroud. If the Bears travel the same path this offseason, they are in it with Fields for the long haul.

“It would mean a lot," Fields said. "I have a pretty good relationship with Ryan and the guys upstairs. At the end of the day, this is a business. They have to make the tough decisions. My job is just to go out there and play my best. It would mean a lot to get that confirmation from them and just really send a message that they trust me to lead this team and be the quarterback.”

Fields is 10-28 as a starter in his career with the Bears. He was given zero continuity, forced to play on a roster ripped to the studs in 2022, and had limited skill talent outside of DJ Moore this season.

Fields survived and thrived as a playmaker despite that. His work ethic and character are A-plus. He is beloved inside Halas Hall. The arrow is trending up as a passer.

Those are all pluses in Fields' column, but that might not be enough if Poles decides that USC's Caleb Williams or North Carolina's Drake Maye offer the Bears bigger passing upside at the position moving forward.

Fields left it all the line this season. He rebounded from a brutal start and gave the Bears reason to believe during a late-season push to prove he's their future.

Despite all that, he knows there's a chance Sunday was his final ride as the Bears' starting quarterback.

“I mean, I’m not sure," Fields said when asked if he was confident he'd done enough to return. "That decision is not in my hands. All I can control is what I did do. I gave it my all. Whether it’s here or not, I have no regrets.

"To the City of Chicago, love ya’ll. Appreciate the fans and the support from all the Bears, you know, and in case this is my last rodeo with ya’ll, appreciate ya’ll for everything.”

And with that, Justin Fields, Bears quarterback, hopped off the podium and strolled into the bowels of Lambeau Field toward the team bus. A handful of Bears fans who waited outside Lambeau chanting, "We Want Fields," cheered as he exited the stadium and disappeared into the team bus.

It might be the most appropriate way for the Fields era in Chicago to end. He was polarizing and captivating. At times, he was breathtaking. At other times, he was maddening. But for the most part, he was a talented, raw, young quarterback who was dealt a bad hand by NFL fate and, for the most part, overcame it. He was good enough to inspire hope of what he could become but never consistent enough to make you believe it had finally arrived and was here to stay.

Sunday almost perfectly encapsulated the Fields era. There were protection issues and play-calling miscues. He made some nice throws and also missed one that looked like a surefire touchdown to tight end Cole Kmet before the Packers defender made an impressive recovery. It was thiiis close. It always was. There was even a late hit to his head that didn't draw a flag. All that was missing was the electric escape for a big run.

Justin Fields wasn't good enough Sunday. But the hope never dissipated from Lambeau Field until the Packers wound out the clock. That's how it always was with Fields. Even when he wasn't at his best, he was just a snap away from pulling everyone back in.

So it was no surprise that some Bears fans waited out in the freezing Wisconsin cold to show their support for a quarterback they believe will deliver the Bears back to the mountaintop. No surprise that they stayed an hour after a putrid offensive performance to cheer a quarterback who emptied the tank for a franchise locked in quarterback hell. For the guy who made them believe again, even if he never fully delivered on that promise. At least, not yet.

Whether or not he gets the chance to is no longer in his hands.

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