Fields Pro Bowl snub talk sign of how things have changed


Three months ago, the thought of Bears quarterback Justin Fields being one of the biggest 2023 Pro Bowl snubs might have seemed outlandish. A fairytale dreamt up by a fan base that has only had two Pro Bowl quarterbacks since 1967.

Fields was dreadful in the Bears' Week 3 win over the Houston Texans. The 23-year-old quarterback went 8-for-17 for 106 yards and two interceptions. It was a performance that Fields himself referred to as "trash," and had many wondering if he was destined to go the way of so many other former Bears "saviors."

My how the times have changed.

Fields started to settle in during a Week 4 loss to the New York Giants and played well in the second half of a Week 5 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. But the second-year signal-caller didn't truly start to emerge until Week 7 after the Bears exited their mini-bye week.

Since Week 7, Fields has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Over that period, he has thrown for 1,179 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions while completing 67.3 percent of his passes. He has also rushed for 718 yards and seven touchdowns during that span.

Based on Expected Points Added Per Play and Completion Percentage Over Expectation, Fields has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL over the last eight weeks. He ranks seventh in the EPA+CPOE composite, trailing Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, Joe Burrow, Jared Goff, and Tua Tagovailoa.

Since mid-October, Fields has been one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the league.

But that wasn't enough to see Fields join Jim McMahon and Mitch Trubisky as the only Bears quarterbacks to be named to the Pro Bowl since 1967.

On Wednesday, the NFL announced the rosters for the 2023 Pro Bowl, with Hurts, Geno Smith, and Kirk Cousins being named the three NFC signal-callers.

One can argue that Fields was one of, if not the biggest, NFC Pro Bowl snub. But while Fields has been efficient, the production hasn't been there in the passing game.

Since Week 7, Fields ranks ninth in the NFL in completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least 200 dropbacks. But he also ranks 24th in yards and 15th in touchdowns.

Fields did miss one game due to a separated non-throwing shoulder, but the Bears' passing game has lagged behind the other aerial attacks in the league. That shouldn't fall on Fields, but when votes are cast for three Pro Bowl spots, the numbers will play a factor.

The counter-argument, and it's a good one, is that Fields now is only the third quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and is on pace to break Lamar Jackson's single-season rushing yards mark set in 2019.

RELATED: Miller's glowing praise of Fields shows where Bears QB is headed

In the end, the Pro Bowl is a meaningless exhibition that is irrelevant in the big picture.

The fact that Fields has played well enough to put himself in the conversation and spark debate about the "snub" speaks to how far he has come and where he is going.

As long as he stays on the escalator to stardom he found starting in Week 7, he'll become a regular in the annual Pro Bowl discussion and could have the Bears positioned to be worrying about things that are much more important than the Pro Bowl.

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