Justin Fields’ performance Sunday against the 49ers was fine, but it doesn’t merit the kind of excitement it is getting.
It’s chaos time for NFL quarterbacks.
So where do the Bears fit in this whirlpool of uncertainty?
I’d say right near the bottom of the drain, like a stink bug swimming hard against the flow.
I know, I know: Bears fans are jacked up because quarterback Justin Fields passed for a touchdown and ran for 103 yards and a touchdown Sunday against the 49ers.
That’s exciting! That’s progress!
Yes, it is. I suppose.
Consider that Fields’ rushing yardage was the second-most by any ball carrier in Week 9 play entering action Monday. Better than star running backs Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor. Amazing.
Fields’ 22-yard scramble for a touchdown in the fourth quarter was a waterbug dance that sent chunks of Soldier Field sod flying like pixie dust toward lunging tacklers. It was thrilling.
But relevant? I’m not so sure.
To count on stuff like that to save a historically bad offense? Really?
To win in the NFL, you’d better be able to pass. That’s primarily what a quarterback is on the field to do. Running helps, but it’s not the key.
Fields threw for 175 yards — 148 after subtracting sack yardage. That’s not even average; that’s lousy.
But, as I said, this is chaos time, and Sunday was close to quarterback lunacy.
Jalen Hurts passed for a mere 103 yards in the Eagles’ 44-6 annihilation of the Lions. The Eagles didn’t need to throw to crush that pitiful 0-8 team.
Then, too, guys named Mike White and Cooper Rush beat the Bengals’ Joe Burrow and the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins, respectively. Maybe Burrow and Cousins aren’t famous quarterbacks, but the Jets’ White, a fifth-round pick in 2018 out of Western Kentucky, and the Cowboys’ Rush, an undrafted free agent in 2017 out of Central Michigan, are nobodies.
And yet White threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in only his second NFL game. And the red-bearded Rush threw for 325 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut.
They’re essentially rookies — old ones, but rookies. And yet we cut Fields endless slack because he, too, is a rookie. It’s potential we see in Bears quarterbacks. Always potential.
I remember seeing all kinds of potential in Mitch Trubisky. Where did that lead? To the bench with the Bills.
But it’s crazy time. This has been proved by the injured quarterbacks going out Sunday — the Saints’ Jameis Winston (knee) and the Panthers’ Sam Darnold (concussion) being two — with the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and others already hurt.
So the subs get their chances. And when they do well, such as the unheralded White and Rush, it makes you wonder about why the Bears’ offense, with its bonus-baby quarterback, is just so awful.
Imagine former Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian, a guy most of us thought had retired and gone fishing, coming in after Winston was hurt and leading the Saints to a 36-27 victory against the Buccaneers and superman quarterback Tom Brady.
Rookie quarterback Mac Jones guided the Patriots to a 27-24 victory against the Chargers. The week before, he hung half a hundred on the Jets, throwing for 307 yards and two touchdowns in a 54-13 rout. Don’t forget that Jones was taken four picks after Fields in the draft in April.
There were quarterbacks throwing for fewer yards than Fields on Sunday, and there were quarterbacks scrambling. But when you try to think of the Bears’ offense scoring, say, 30 or more points, you can’t. Impossible.
The 22 points Fields ‘‘led’’ them to against the 49ers were their second-most of the season. It wasn’t even the average (24.8) the 49ers’ defense has allowed this season. The Bears’ highest point total this season — 24 against the pitiful Lions — wouldn’t get there, either.
And yet here we are, suddenly ga-ga over Fields’ ‘‘potential,’’ even though his 251 net yards of offense Sunday ranked 123rd for any team this season.
His 148 net yards passing was tied for the 24th-lowest among the 242 games played to date. He also owns the fifth-lowest, fourth-lowest and lowest total — one yard against the Browns — this season.
No, this failure is not all Fields’ fault. Maybe not even most of it. The Bears’ coaching, philosophy and culture are a huge part of it.
That’s why I’m not thrilled. I know the Bears.