ESPN Just Gave Justin Fields Even More Reasons To Crush 2022
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ESPN Just Gave Justin Fields Even More Reasons To Crush 2022

As if Justin Fields needed any additional bulletin board material. At this point, it is hardly a secret that most national media thinks he’ll be bad in 2022. Most of this pessimism is based on what happened last year and what the Chicago Bears have put around him. Some have even gone so far as to say he’ll flirt with throwing more interceptions than touchdowns for the second year in a row. All the while, the optimism surrounding Trey Lance is a runaway train.

Mike Renner of ESPN and Pro Football Focus made that clear when he listed the #3 overall pick as one of his 15 second-year breakout stars. His reasoning was simple enough. He has the better situation around him and showed enough flashes as a rookie to warrant the praise.

“This one is as much about the circumstances as it is about what Lance put on tape as a rookie. On 86 dropbacks as a rookie, he was … fine. His 61.1 passing grade ranked second behind Mac Jones in the rookie class, but that’s not saying a whole lot given how the rest of the class fared…

…You won’t find a second-year quarterback with a better situation around him heading into 2022, though. Lance gets to play behind PFF’s 14th-ranked offense line and throw to PFF’s sixth-ranked receiving corps this season. Oh, and he gets to do it all with Kyle Shanahan calling plays. If Lance can’t succeed with that around him, it might never happen.”

Renner is clearly basing all of this faith in Shanahan and his proven offense. Lance started two games last year. One was against Arizona, where he looked ugly. The other was against the atrocious Houston Texans, and he looked serviceable. Yet Fields’ own improvement last year gets ignored.

Justin Fields deserves more respect.

Unlike Lance, he didn’t have the luxury of sitting on the bench and getting to come in only during choice moments of the season. He didn’t inherit a good coaching staff. Matt Nagy and Kyle Shanahan are on different planets as play callers. His offensive line was bottom 10 in the league too. Yet despite all of that, Fields still showed lots of progress last season. Through his first five starts, he had 746 yards passing with two touchdowns, five interceptions, and a 64.8 passer rating. Over the next five, he managed 1,053 yards, five touchdowns, four interceptions, and an 84.0 rating.

Imagine how much better he might be this year if he could manage that with little to no help. The Bears brought in Luke Getsy as their new offensive coordinator. He’s expected to install the outside-zone offense. The same one Shanahan has helped make famous in San Francisco. Chicago has a 1,000-yard receiver in Darnell Mooney and a strong stable of running backs in David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert.

Presuming the offensive line makes even modest improvement, there is enough evidence suggesting Justin Fields will be much better this year.

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