QB Fields: Tired of Bears being ‘almost there’
2: 03 AM ET
Courtney CroninESPN Staff Writer
- Covered the 49ers, Raiders and Warriors for the San Jose Mercury News. She joined ESPN in 2017.
CHICAGO — Standing at the dais postgame still partially in uniform with grass stains all over his white pants — a sign of how many hits he took in a 12-7 loss to the Washington Commanders on Thursday night — Bears quarterback Justin Fields voiced frustration over what has resulted in Chicago dropping three straight games while stumbling to a 2-4 start.
“We always get told that ‘we’re almost there, we’re almost there,'” Fields said. “Me, personally, I’m tired of being almost there. I’m tired of being just this close. I feel like I’ve been hearing it for so long now. At the end of the day, all you can do is get back to work. That’s the only reaction you have. You live and you learn. Just get back next week and keep going, keep getting better.”
The catalyst of the loss to the Commanders was Chicago’s inability to score on three trips inside the red zone, the second time that’s happened in its past three games. The Bears also went 0-for-3 in the red zone during a 20-12 loss at the New York Giants in Week 4.
Fields threw an interception at Washington’s 5-yard line on Chicago’s second drive of the game, which was the first red zone pick of his career. On their following drive, the Bears got down to the Commanders’ 1-yard line, thanks in part to a 64-yard run from Khalil Herbert on the first play from scrimmage. Herbert could not punch the ball in on a fourth-down run.
Chicago’s final trip inside the red zone came on its last drive after Fields scrambled for 39 yards, the longest run of his career. Facing fourth-and-4 inside the 5-yard line, Fields threw a pass to Darnell Mooney, which hit the receiver in the chest as his body crossed the plane of the goal line. Mooney bobbled the ball and did not secure it until coming down just shy of the end zone.
The repeated red zone issues produced a blunt answer from the quarterback.
“When the play is there, make it,” Fields said. “Plain and simple. There is no logistics. It’s not complicated. It’s when you have that opportunity, finish. It’s that simple. We just didn’t do that tonight. You don’t have to make it harder than it is, pitch and catch.”
But one play ate at Fields postgame. On the Bears’ second red zone drive, Fields and Ryan Griffin failed to connect on second-and-3 from the Washington 3-yard line when the veteran tight end had 4.05 yards of separation, according to Next Gen Stats.
“The one that’s making me mad is the one to Griff in the end zone,” Fields said. “He probably could have ran a little bit more, but he’s wide open. I got to hit that. I’m an NFL quarterback. I got to hit that.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Bears are the second team this season to accumulate at least 390 yards of offense and less than 10 points in a game. Fields finished 14-of-27 for 190 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Mooney led the Bears in targets (12) and receptions (7) and finished second in receiving yards with 68.
Fields and the offense failed to follow up on a strong second-half performance from a Week 5 loss at the Minnesota Vikings, where the quarterback had the Bears in position late after scoring 19 unanswered points.
Bears coach Matt Eberflus didn’t believe Fields’ outing four days after losing to the Vikings was a step back.
“I think he took a step forward,” Eberflus said. “I really do.
“Because, the toughness. For me, the ability to take the ball and drive it down at the very end to give us a chance to win it, that’s to me what was the improvement. OK? Was there other moments that we need to clean up and offense needs to clean up? Sure. But we had the drives down there and if we punch those in, the game’s a different game. That’s 21 points. So for me, that was really inspiring to watch him do that at the very end, to take us down to win it at the very end. And again, we came up short. We’ve got to do a better job next time.”
Statistically, Fields remains at the bottom of the NFL, ranking last in completion percentage (54.8%), off-target percentage (24.4%), sack percentage (13.5%) and pressure percentage (46.2%). His completion percentage over expectation (-10.7%) and interception percentage (4.3%) ranks 31st.
As a whole, the Bears have thrown 115 passes this season, the fewest by any team through six games since the 1982 Patriots.
Fields took several heavy hits Thursday that left him slow to get up in between plays. The quarterback said postgame that he reaggravated an injury to his left shoulder but did not specify whether the initial injury happened against the Commanders or in a previous game.
Fields was pressured 18 times by Washington, which ties a career high. The Bears quarterback has been pressured on 46% of his dropbacks this season, which is the highest rate of pressure a quarterback has faced in the first six games of a season since ESPN began tracking pressures in 2009.
Asked whether the Bears would need to reevaluate the offensive line during their mini-bye week, Eberflus pointed to potential changes across the board.
“We’re going to reassess everything,” Eberflus said. “Everything from scheme to players to everything. We’re going to do a good job of that here coming up. And we’re going to do a good job of really getting it to the players.
“If it might be a lineup change or might be technique, fundamentals, all that, scheme, how we’re running certain plays, who we’re getting ball to, what we’re doing well, what we need to improve on.”
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.