Justin Fields

Justin Fields starting to make best, only argument to remain Bears' QB in future

The win over the Cardinals did little to change the Bears' QB narrative, but it was another win for Justin Fields -- and that might be his strongest case to stay at the helm in Chicago

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CHICAGO -- The Bears' 27-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Soldier Field meant little in the big picture. It moved the Bears to 6-9 on the season and showed they still refused to let go of the rope under head coach Matt Eberflus despite the tidal wave of adversity that has hit them repeatedly this season.

Music blasted in a celebratory Bears locker room after the win. While a win over a Cardinals team that's still digging out the foundation of their rebuild likely won't be a Rosetta Stone used to decipher the future of the Rayn Poles-Matt Eberflus rebuild, it clearly meant something to two key members of the 2023 Bears.

Two members whose futures in Chicago hang in the balance as the season draws to a close.

Quarterback Justin Fields sat in his locker, still mostly dressed in his game uniform, a big smile stretched across his face. Fields popped up as offensive coordinator Luke Getsy walked around the corner. The Bears quarterback and offensive coordinator -- a pairing that has come under intense scrutiny all season -- hugged each other and shared an embrace that was as much of an exhale as a celebration. Getsy patted Fields on the chest and congratulated him for piloting an offense forced to play left-handed Sunday. Fields patted Getsy on the back and applauded his OC for a good day's work.

For Fields and Getsy, Sunday's win over the Cardinals was one of the few remaining opportunities to prove they are part of the long-term solution in Chicago -- that their pairing can work. That they can elevate one another.

It wasn't a resounding statement by any means. It wasn't the 300-yard passing game against the Washington Commanders. It didn't have a game-winning drive like the one in Minnesota.

But it was an evening in which the Bears' offense got back to its run-game roots. The Bears rushed for 250 yards, with Fields' 97 playing a critical role.

The passing game found success on deep shots early to tight end Cole Kmet. Kmet caught four passes in the first half for a career-high 107 yards. That included a 53-yard connection on which Fields threw a "go-get-it" ball after recognizing the defensive back wasn't paying attention to him. It also had a 20-yard strike on which Fields layered the ball in between defenders. But Kmet left at halftime due to a knee injury, and star wide receiver DJ Moore was used as a decoy after suffering an ankle injury on the second play.

Fields and the passing game sputtered in the second half, with two top weapons either out or hampered. That will happen when Tyler Scott, Velus Jones Jr., and Collin Johnson get vital second-half snaps.

Fields finished the day 15-for-27 for 170 yards, one touchdown, and one interception through the air. The interception in the red zone was the type of inexcusable mistake Fields hasn't made since returning from a thumb injury. He threw two interceptions on Hail Marys against the Browns, so, for all intents and purposes, that was his first pick since coming back.

Fields understands the situation surrounding his future as the Bears' starting quarterback. He has the full backing of the locker room but knows it's mostly out of his control. He has shown growth this season, but it might not be enough for the Bears to pass on taking a quarterback with the No. 1 pick.

The stats Sunday won't jump off the page. Fields' closing statement instead must be about him, Getsy, and the Bears learning to win and finish together. That his progress and growth are showing up in the most important statistical category -- the win column.

"I'm cool with whatever as long as we win the game," Fields said after the win Sunday. "If I have 100 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and we get the win, I'm cool with that. I know people love stats and 'He only throws for blah, blah, blah.' I don't care. We won the game. As long as we win, I'm not really a numbers guy. All I know is that one went up in the win column today. That's all I care about."'

With winnable games against the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers to close the season, the best closing argument for Fields and Getsy is an 8-9 season that could have been better. Maintaining this group's continuity -- with a talented and developing 24-year-old quarterback at the helm and a young OC still fine-tuning his system to the QB's strengths -- is the best way to keep the arrow consistently trending up in Chicago.

With an injection of talent and another year in the system, the Bears have doubled their win total and could finish with more.

"Everybody understands the offense more," Fields said Sunday when asked what's behind the Bears' jump in wins. "Of course, we have more talented players -- guys like Montez and Tremaine on defense. Our defense is way better. I think we're better as a team, and we've learned how to win as the season has gone along."

If you extrapolate that forward, the sky could be the limit. Or this could be the ceiling. Tinkering with that could accelerate things or halt progress. There's no concrete way to know the outcome of the decisions that lie ahead for Poles.

When the game ended Sunday, Fields went around Soldier Field to high-five the fans. He soaked in another win as the Bears' starting quarterback at home, knowing next Sunday could be his last as the man in that arena.

After their embrace, Getsy dapped up backup quarterback Tyson Bagent and headed for the exit. Fields shared a moment with quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko and then sat back down, the smile never leaving his face.

Sunday's win did little to change the narrative around Getsy or Fields. But it was a win. At this point, putting two more of those on the board is the best closing argument either can make for continuing to be part of the core of this rebuild.

It might be the only one they have left.

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