NFL

The Bears lose, but more importantly, QB Justin Fields has arrived

The Bears lose, but more importantly, QB Justin Fields has arrived

The Chicago bones gave Justin Fields worst possible hand to play this season. He has turned 2-7 offside into a huge winner.

The Bears haven’t helped Fields at all, but he’s succeeding anyway. This is a great sign for the Bears moving forward, assuming they finally understand what they have and want to really build around it.

Fields was terrific Sunday as he continues to emerge as the best quarterback in the 2021 draft. Not this there has been a lot of competition there. The bones lost 35-32 to the Miami Dolphins but don’t blame that on Fields. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for 178 yards with another touchdown on the ground. That 178-yard day broke the regular-season record for yards in a single game by a quarterback, surpassing Mike Vick’s old mark of 173 yards. Fields was electric.

In the final two minutes, Fields had a chance with the Bears trailing by three. On fourth and 10 he threw a big pass to Equanim St. Brown, and St. Brown dropped it. This is what happens when you invest almost nothing in the passing attack.

In the big picture, losing to a good Dolphins team doesn’t matter much. The Bears are 3-6 and still rebuilding. Fields’ game matters. While others in 2021 have been inconsistent or just plain bad, Fields is showing signs that he could be a high-end quarterback.

Fields’ 2022 has been a study in overcoming obstacles. The Bears did everything they could to make it more difficult for him. They hired a defensive head coach in Matt Eberflus. They didn’t improve the offensive line or the receiving corps in free agency. They had two picks in the top 70 in the draft and used them both on defensive players. Early in the season, the pitching staff seemed terrified to feature Fields, going eight, seven, eight through its first three games.

Finally, the Bears’ new regime seemed to figure out that the 2021 first-round pick at quarterback might be worth using more of. His usage has increased as the season has progressed, and the Bears’ defense has looked much more capable. Imagine.

Fields is still not polished. His passing still needs work, but how much of that is due to the absence of a decent offensive line and no standout receivers other than maybe Darnell Mooney? Regardless, Fields’ dual-threat ability is exciting. His 61-yard touchdown run through a strong Dolphins defense showed all of his playmaking talent. Not many quarterbacks can make plays like that.

The Bears started to get help in Fields by trading for receiver Chase Claypool from Pittsburgh Steelers last week. This is a start. Chicago needs to fully invest in the offense next season, and the Bears have the options and salary cap space to do so. It seems like, especially after Sunday’s thrilling loss, they have a question for the upcoming offseason. They know they have some hope at quarterback.

Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears had a great game against the Dolphins.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears had a great game against the Dolphins. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 9 of the NFL season:

WINNERS

Justin Herbert i Austin Thank you: The Los Angeles Chargers they have a lot of injuries, but they are still finding ways to stay alive this season.

Mostly, it’s been Herbert and Ekeler making enough plays for the Chargers to pull through.

Ekeler scored both of the Chargers’ touchdowns, including a TD catch by Herbert, and Herbert put the Chargers in position for a field goal as time expired. beat the Atlanta Falcons 20-17 Herbert made a huge play, hitting Josh Palmer 22 yards with less than 30 seconds left to set up the field goal.

The Chargers seem to lose key players to injury every week, but are 5-3 despite those losses. It will be hard to keep it going, but Herbert and Ekeler will do their best until some players start to come back.

The Detroit Lions … defense?: If you need proof that the Green Bay Packers are broken and Aaron Rodgers is no longer what it once was, Sunday’s loss to the Lions was a repeat.

There will be plenty of time to analyze the Packers’ season that’s over or close, so let’s give the Lions some credit for the 15-9 win. Rodgers threw two interceptions in goal-on-goal situations the first time in any game of his career, but the Lions did make those plays. One got lucky, with a helmet pass that went straight up in the air, but on the other, Aidan Hutchinson sniffed a play call and dropped back into coverage, catching a pass intended for an offensive tackle . David Bakhtiari. On the Packers’ final drive, the Lions nearly recovered two fumbles, but were out of bounds both times, but still held the Packers to a loss on downs.

The Lions defense has been awful all season. But on Sunday, they shut out Rodgers and the Packers.

Vikings 7-1: The Minnesota Vikings they are 7-1 and the Packers are five games behind them in the loss column. You didn’t expect the Vikings to have practically clinched the NFC North by the first week of November, did you?

The Vikings’ win on Sunday was like most of their other wins. It wasn’t exciting or pretty, but they won. Minnesota fell behind 17-7 in the fourth quarter but came back to beat the Commanders of Washington 20-17 A massive interception by safety Harrison Smith set up a game-tying touchdown and the game-winning field goal came at the end of a long drive in the final minute.

The Vikings don’t look like a dominant Super Bowl contender. But they are already almost division champions.

LOSERS

Josh Allen’s take on the MVP: Allen, the Buffalo Bills the quarterback, was the favorite for NFL MVP. But I might be losing control at this point.

Allen threw a couple of bad picks last week in a win over the Green Bay Packers, but he wasn’t so lucky coming out of Sunday’s game with a win. The New York Jets took a big 20-17 over the Bills, and Allen had the kind of game he had a few times last season, throwing a couple more bad picks and barely moving the ball against the Jets defense. He had a chance late to drive the Bills to at least a game-tying field goal, but Buffalo went four-and-out. On one play he was hit and bumped, and came out flexing and rubbing his right elbow. Then on fourth down, his desperation pass downfield fell incomplete.

The Jets had a massive win, their biggest in the Robert Saleh era. The Bills are still good, but they lost their chance to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC last season with some puzzling losses. Sunday was not a good day for them, or for Allen.

Frank Reich and his job security: At some point there are no more coordinators to fire or quarterbacks to bench, and the onus for an awful season falls on the head coach.

Reich benched Matt Ryan. He then fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, even though Reich calls plays.

The Colts might be the most disappointing team in the NFL this season, or in short contention for that “honor,” and it got worse with a apathetic loss 26-3 to the New England Patriots. The Colts are hard to watch. They have offensive injuries, including running back Jonathan Taylor, but that doesn’t explain everything about his 3-5-1 record. Colts owner Jim Irsay can’t be happy with this slump, and there aren’t many people under Reich to replace.

Steve Wilks: Wilks has done some good things for the Carolina Panthers. They have looked much better since Matt Rhule was fired and Wilks took over as interim coach. He would probably be a good choice as the permanent coach of the Panthers.

But the truth is, the Panthers have a horrible situation, and Wilks probably has to be perfect to get the full-time job. Panthers owner David Tepper is impatient and Wilks isn’t the type of hire that seems to be his style.

The Panthers had the kind of game Sunday that will hang around for a while. They were absolutely awful getting outscored 42-21 Cincinnati Bengals. At halftime they were trailing 35-0. They got into it Baker Mayfield in the second part because why not. Joe Mixon had five touchdowns against them The Panthers will have some tough games, they’re bad enough they’ve already fired their coach, but Wilks probably can’t afford any embarrassment. Sunday’s result will not impress the owner.

Another Raiders debacle: Well, the Las Vegas Raiders they didn’t get left out and embarrassed themselves this week, like they did in the New Orleans Saints week 8

This time, Josh McDaniels’ team jumped out to an early 17-0 lead lose 27-20 ah Jacksonville Jaguars the team entered with 2-6.

The Raiders are 2-6 and McDaniels’ first season as the Raiders’ head coach has been a debacle. There is time to get out of this mess but don’t buy excuses that the new regime needs more time or that Derek Carr’s back is injured. The Raiders had to be much better than this. They are one of the worst teams in the NFL.



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