Bears' Justin Fields walks back coaching as cause for early-season struggles, QB says he will alter approach -

Following a rocky start to the NFL season, Justin Fields has built a case for himself, suggesting improvement despite occasional inconsistencies in his performance as a quarterback.

He’s shown improvement by reducing missed open throws, displaying more patience in the pocket, and managing his running game to complement his overall strategy rather than scrambling out of structure for big plays. Having amassed 34 starts for the Chicago Bears, there’s a discernible shift between two sets of 17 games, resembling two full NFL seasons, with his latter half showing notable progress compared to his initial stretch. The conclusion of the 2024 season’s final four games will likely determine if the Bears favor keeping Fields over selecting Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick.

However, at least seven NFL general managers remain unconvinced and overwhelmingly lean towards drafting Caleb. They express concerns about Fields’ consistency as a passer despite acknowledging his physical gifts. They point to uncertainties surrounding Fields’ ability to consistently lead the team to victories.

These GMs present various reasons advocating for a trade of Fields and picking Williams: highlighting Williams’ significant talent and refined passing skills, emphasizing the advantage of a rookie quarterback contract, and the need for further evaluation before deciding on Fields’ fifth-year option this spring.

Moreover, an NFC GM notes the psychological aspect for Bears GM Ryan Poles, who inherited Fields from the previous regime and might face job scrutiny based on Fields’ development. The pressure intensifies as quarterback and head coach decisions significantly shape a team’s culture, potentially impacting job security.

While these GMs evaluate Fields from an external perspective, Poles might hold a different viewpoint, witnessing Fields’ progress within the team. Poles could perceive Fields’ development positively, already considering his fifth-year option viable based on this season’s advancements. Alternatively, Poles might entertain the idea of trading the No. 1 overall pick again for more roster depth, deviating from focusing solely on one quarterback.

With the Carolina Panthers holding the Bears’ 2024 first-round pick and maintaining a lead for the No. 1 spot in the draft, Poles faces a crucial decision. If he favors Williams over Fields, he must evaluate potential trade partners interested in Fields, considering teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts as potential suitors due to their offensive schemes.

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Determining Fields’ trade value remains uncertain, as he undergoes an audition period in the final stretch of the season, potentially impacting his perceived worth. While general managers estimate his trade value to hover around second- to third-round picks, uncertainties regarding Fields’ contract duration influence his value. His remaining cheap contract year followed by a decision on his fifth-year option limits the bargaining power in a potential trade scenario.

As the season unfolds, Fields’ performance will dictate his market value, impacting the Bears’ decision and potential trade discussions. The next four games present a significant opportunity for evaluation, possibly reshaping the futures of multiple franchises and deciding Fields’ role in the NFL landscape.

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