Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields is under the microscope in a big way, but with four games left to go in the regular season, and with the Bears zeroing in on a No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, where does he stand?
For context, the Carolina Panthers have a 1-12 record this season after losing their sixth straight game on Sunday. They have a two-game cushion over the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals for the top selection in the draft, which would convey to the Bears thanks to the trade that sent Carolina the No. 1 pick in 2023.
As for the Bears, they have four games left, and are the owners of a 5-8 record after consecutive wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.
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Fields had another solid day on Sunday, throwing for 233 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also rushed for 58 yards on 12 carries, adding another rushing touchdown to his ledger.
In his last five full games, excluding the contest against Minnesota where he suffered a thumb injury, Fields has thrown for 1,226 yards, including 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. He has completed 66.8% of his passes in those games.
He has also rushed 57 times for 303 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
Now, with the top pick growing more likely by the week and with just four games left in the regular season, what is Fields’ status with the team?
On NBC Sports Chicago’s “Football Aftershow,” the panel discussed that status, and they offered some cautious optimism.
“He did a great job. He did a really good job today,” Alex Brown said about Fields’ future. “I thought the offense was really good. Yes, we can win with that type of football that we saw today. Now we need to see it in back-to-back-to-back games.”
Dave Wannstedt said that Fields’ recent performance has been good, but still expressed caution due to the full body of his work.
“In his last 18 games, he’s thrown for 26 touchdowns and thrown 12 picks. And he’s rushed for 8 TDs. That’s over 4,000 yards his last 18 games,” he said. “That’s really good football. Is it Tom Brady football? No, but it’s really good football. There’s something there.
“Still, if you look at the whole body of work, he has 17 turnovers in the fourth quarter, which is tied for the most in the National Football League over that period of time,” he added.
The big key for the panel was how Fields compares to the top-available quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. That will likely include USC quarterback Caleb Williams and North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, but Brown cited Fields’ playmaking ability, on display on his lead-extending rushing touchdown, as something he holds over both Williams and Maye.
“When people tell me where the kids that are coming out of college aren’t as good as him, those kids can’t do that,” he said. “Maybe (Heisman Trophy Winner Jayden) Daniels from LSU can make that run to the pylon and score, but Caleb, he’s not going to do that. Drake Maye is not going to do that. He is a dynamic player.”
Lance Briggs said that Fields’ ability to withstand pressure and impacts in the pocket also give him a positive feeling about his future.
“I think of Ben Roethlisberger,” he said. “One of his strengths is that a guy can be hanging on him, trying to tackle him and he’ll sit there and he’ll buy more time for his receivers. They won Super Bowls like that.”
If the Bears do end up with the top draft pick and decide to keep it, odds are strong that they will draft a quarterback. Should they decide to keep Fields, then there are numerous other top options at other positions of need. Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. will likely be a top-end pick if he decides to leave college. Several left tackles will also be available at the top of the draft, including Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, Notre Dame’s Joe Alt, and Alabama’s JC Latham.
The Bears could also draft UCLA pass rusher Laiatu Latu if he’s available.