LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Everyone associated with the Bears knows how the NFL officiates quarterback Justin Fields. Where most quarterbacks are protected and defenses are flagged for being in their zip code, the Bears' second-year signal-caller takes several massive shots a game, some of which are either late or to the head.
But the Fields rarely gets the protection afforded to the rest of the NFL's top quarterbacks. Bears head coach Matt Eberflus sends in calls to the league after every game, and he estimates he has sent in several no-calls on hits to his quarterback.
"You send them in," Eberflus said Monday. "When you feel like something is a wrong call or whatever, sure, you send it in. We're really doing that for feedback. We're doing it for feedback for ourselves and how we can improve Justin and his style just to say it wasn't a call, should it have been called or not, so we can be consistent there.
"I would say it's probably one or two a week, I bet," Eberflus said. "Just because of what he's doing right now."
Running back David Montgomery is constantly impressed by the toughness the 23-year-old quarterback shows.
"You see him kind of take hits like, I look at it like, those are the kind of hits I take," Montgomery said. "You know. I know how I feel after that. So to see him taking it and he gets up and just keeps striking it is impressive to see from my standpoint."
After the Bears' 27-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, rookie safety Jaquan Brisker made a plea for the NFL to officiate Fields fairly.
“He very tough," Brisker said of Fields after the loss. "Especially, the league, if that were different quarterback, they would be throwing hella flags. A lot of flags. I feel like the league has to look at that. It’s crazy how many times he gets hit in the head every single game, but he still gets up. Gets hit out of bounds, late, or near the white.
"If that was Tom Brady, Jared Goff, or anybody like that, they throwing flags immediately. Just as you seen today. They threw a flag to [Marcus] Mariota, and he tripped over himself. I feel like they got to respect Justin some more and look at him as a quarterback because, obviously, there you should be more flags. He’s getting targeted every single game and none of them are being thrown.”
As the Bears have increased Fields' running load, the hits have started to pile up. Fields said his legs were sore after the Bears' Week 10 loss to the Detroit Lions, and he battled cramps during the loss to the Falcons. It was clear Sunday in Atlanta that he didn't have his top gear and took numerous hits because of that.
Fields suffered a left shoulder injury on the first play of the Bears' final drive in Atlanta. That's the risk you take when you run the quarterback repeatedly against NFL defenses. While Fields' status for Week 12 remains in the air, the Bears don't regret how they have utilized the face of their franchise.
"You got to balance that," Eberflus said of Fields' rushing attempts. "And I've said that since we started this, since that New England game. You got to be smart about what you’re doing. I’m still saying the same thing. You got to be smart. You got to stay out of harm’s way. And we’re constantly talking to him about that, because he is an aggressive guy, and he’s strong and all those things, but he is our quarterback.
"We got to make sure that he does get to the sideline and works himself out, and when he is on the middle part of the field, slide. He did a pretty good job of that yesterday, but he was in harm’s way a couple times."
Sending plays into the league hasn't helped get Fields more protection. Why is he treated differently than Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and others?
“I do not know," Brisker said. "Maybe because he’s strong, he’s physical. I don’t know. He’s a quarterback. I feel like he should get the same – it should be equal. Just like everybody else."