LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Justin Fields is officiated differently than other quarterbacks in the NFL. The evidence is clear as day.
The Bears' second-year quarterback constantly is hit late, either after a slide or while going out of bounds. There have been countless times this season where Fields has taken a shot after giving himself up only to find no laundry on the field.
The latest incident occurred Sunday in the Bears’ 25-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles when defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh hit him in the head after he slid. Fields pleaded with the official for a flag but to no avail.
After a late hit in the Bears’ preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, Fields said he “might have to wait four or five years” to get those calls. Now he has decided to press the officials in hopes a call will eventually go his way.
“It’s just been too many times where I have slid and gotten hit too late and I don’t get any flags,” Fields said Tuesday at Halas Hall. “I think at this point in time … I’m going to be on the refs just looking for a call. When I think it’s a flag, I’m going to ask the ref. On Sunday, he said he didn’t think it was a foul. I’m just going to be begging for those calls and hope that I get one in the near future.”
Fields didn’t understand how getting hit by Suh while he was on the ground didn’t warrant an unnecessary roughness penalty.
“I felt like I was down and then I just felt a 300-pound guy coming on my back,” Fields said. “I just got to ask those refs for those calls.”
In an NFL era that prioritizes protecting the quarterback, Fields doesn’t benefit from the same friendly flags as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and others.
Fields took several questionable hits during the Bears’ Week 11 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, including one on the Bears’ final drive after he separated his left shoulder. Fields took a QB draw up the middle and slid after picking up a few yards but was drilled by Grady Jarrett after he was on the ground.
Following that loss in Atlanta, Bears rookie safety Jaquan Brisker demanded the NFL give Fields the same protection they afford other quarterbacks.
"Especially, the league, if that was different quarterback, they would be throwing hella flags,” Brisker said. “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.”
When asked why Fields doesn’t get the same calls other signal-callers do, Brisker was at a loss.
“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."
It isn’t equal, so Fields is going to try and take matters into his own hands, hoping to get the benefit of the protection afforded to his counterparts across the league.