Justin Fields

Justin Fields led NFL quarterbacks in throws under pressure last season

According to Warren Sharp, Fields threw the ball under the pressure most in the NFL last season

NBC Universal, Inc.

Justin Fields doesn't get much free time.

And I'm not talking about the offseason, when he's the first one to arrive at Halas Hall, and the last one to leave. Though that part is true, I'm talking about his free time in the pocket.

According to Warren Sharp, Fields threw the ball under the most pressure from defenders last season, throwing 46% of his passes while under pressure. That led the league by three percent over Daniel Jones, who settled at 43%.

This issue has been spoken about ad nauseam, especially during last season. Fields not only led the league in most throws under pressure, but he also tied Russell Wilson as the most-sacked quarterback in the league.

Who's to blame? It's a three-fold problem.

It starts with the offensive line. Riddled with injuries and a lack of talent, they didn't perform well enough to give Fields time to throw and keep him off the ground. Despite their 14th-place finish on PFF, their run-game performance propelled their overall rating. Don't be fooled.

That's why, this offseason, Ryan Poles and the front office went out of their way to sign Nate Davis to become their starting right guard and draft Darnell Wright, the right tackle out of Tennessee to take over on the right side.

The wide receivers didn't make a great case for themselves last season. Cole Kmet led the team in receiving yards with a disappointing 544 yards. That's a whole other story, but shows how ineffective the Bears threw the ball last season.

At one point during the season, the Bears pass-catchers provided the least amount of separation from their defenders than any other group in the NFL. That's not providing ample support for a quarterback. And mixing a below-average wide receiver group and a poor offensive line is a recipe for disaster.

Now, the Bears have DJ Moore, the presumed No. 1 pass option, tight end Robert Tonyan, and rookie receiver Tyler Scott on the roster to give Fields more options in the passing game. The Bears' offense will be different than last season; they don't plan to run the ball the most of any NFL team.

Finally, we move to Fields. If there's one skill he hasn't yet mastered, it's decision-making. Kurt Warner did a phenomenal job this offseason showing where Fields made incorrect decisions in the passing game. Either failing to find an open man or not being quick enough with getting the ball out.

I could blame the offensive line and wide receiver core all day long. But Fields isn't perfect either. And he definitely wasn't last season. Why do you think the Bears made his legs a staple of their offense?

The goal for next season is to provide cleaner pockets and more opportunities for Fields to show off his skill set. Eyes are shifting to Fields. Can he fix his weak spots in the passing game to provide a fruitful offense through the air?

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us