Bears Seeing Benefits of Justin Fields’ Arm
Bears receiver Equanimeous St. Brown did not seem like Justin Fields’ favorite guy after Sunday’s loss to Green Bay.
Fields blamed St. Brown for the game-winning interception by saying that St. Brown should have made a hard cut back on the throw pattern that he and Fields were running (Fields indicated a dig route, while St. Brown said a curl route). Fields’s camp was supported by coach Matt Eberflus.
On the day after the Bears gained a season-high 409 yards and Fields threw for a season-high 254 yards, St. Brown was quite positive while discussing Fields’ throwing and the Bears offense in general.
Bears quarterbacks completed four passes of 24 yards or more, including a season-long 56-yarder from Fields to wide receiver Antonio St. Brown.
St. Brown remarked of Fields, “I mean, he’s getting better every week.” The media can see it. His athleticism is common knowledge, but his throwing ability doesn’t deserve the credit. As a passer, he’s excellent. Even when in motion, he produces some spectacular tosses. And that’s why he’s an underrated passer who needs more praise than he gets now.
In all honesty, Fields’ future success in the NFL will depend on his ability to pass the ball. While his sprinting ability is an excellent asset, he will be healthier, and the team will be able to move the ball more reliably with his arm if they refrain from using it.
St. Brown thinks that the passing game was inevitable. For this season, I believe we have been improving as an offensive unit,” St. Brown said. We’re a young team. A new game plan for the offensive. We’ve come a long way, but things are improving.
Beyond Fields’ 55-yard TD run, what helped the Bears was a day when he completed two deep passes and had several more large gains of at least 20 yards. The highlights were the 49-yard pass to N’Keal Harry and the 56-yard pass to St. Brown.
Fields was driving the ball down the field at a rate he’d only seen once before, in his home-starting debut against Detroit last season.
On Sunday, he ended with a 10.16-yard average per rush. Only in a 2021 victory over Detroit did he do better than this, and even then, he only completed 11 passes and hit a few long ones.
He had 20 successful throws and averaged over 10 yards per attempt. One of the traditional metrics for measuring passing success in the NFL is yards per attempt. Despite the proliferation of analytical websites and data services of varying forms, yards per attempt has been a consistent focus for football fans.
An ineffective quarterback averages less than 7.0 yards per pass attempt. Yes, it is that easy. When they’re only charging a few cents for something, it’s hard to hurt them. Fields have a yearly field goal percentage.575 (7.5/10). He might join Jim McMahon as the only starting quarterback in Bears history to average 7.5 yards per pass attempt or higher.
Jay Cutler accomplished this feat twice while serving as the starting quarterback. Some others have achieved this with fewer than ten regular-season starts, but these players were either backup or were only given playing time due to injury or suspensions.
To keep that number high, Fields must continue completing throws downfield.
Only Nick Foles, who had been a backup before being named Philadelphia‘s starter in 2017, averaged more than nine yards per pass attempt in the playoffs than any of the other five starting quarterbacks who had won Super Bowls in that time.
On December 18, the Bears will host the Eagles, and Jalen Hurts will look to improve on his 8.2 yards per carry average. He was successful on 73% of his passes for an average of 7.3 yards per attempt last season. Fields indeed wish he could do the same thing.
Throughout the last four games, it will be crucial for Fields to maintain his deep-throwing success. He can safely continue in this vein.
Why shouldn’t he go ahead and do it? The possibility of being snatched up? Really, who gives a crap? The Bears have nothing to lose, so he can try to wing it if they’ll just block for him.
According to NextGen Stats, Fields is third among starting quarterbacks in intended air yards per pass at 9.4. This ranks only behind Marcus Mariota and Tua Tagovailoa.
According to NextGen, Fields ranks fourth among starting quarterbacks in average air yards completed (6.9), behind only Tagovailoa, Josh Allen, and Mariota. St. Brown hinted that the Bears passing game was beginning to find footing without star receiver Darnell Mooney.
It is more critical for Fields to get to know individuals like Chase Claypool and Harry, who can cause problems from deep in the last four games. All of them might finally be on the same page offensively when Mooney comes back the following season.
For that reason alone, the Bears consider the games to be beneficial. There is no bearing on the rankings, but if they keep honing their deep passing game, these games may have significance in the future.