Bears don't balk when Fields lowers shoulder for TDs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Every week Justin Fields looks more and more like the franchise quarterback the Bears have been trying to find for generations. Now that he’s here, it’s imperative that he sticks around. The contract stuff will come later, so the focus really becomes protecting him.
Fields is a really tough dude. There are countless times we’ve seen him take an enormous hit, then get back up, brush it off and continue leading the offense.
But we’ve seen the accumulation of big hits knock Fields out of games, too. Last season Fields missed four games due to a ribs injury and an ankle injury. So when Fields lowered the boom, and his throwing shoulder, to muscle his way into the endzone against the Lions, some cheered while others cringed. The Bears fell into the first camp.
“That is the competitor in him,” said Luke Getsy. “I think that's why these guys rally around him. He's about winning. The dude just wants to win. That's our mindset.”
Fields came away from the play unscathed, but the Bears have often talked about Fields learning when to slide and when to go out of bounds. To his credit, he’s gotten better at that over his season and a half of work. But the coaches are still cognizant of limiting his hits as much as possible. They’re also cognizant of how much he’s been running the ball.
After Sunday’s game, Fields remarked that his body wasn’t hurting from the hits, but his legs were sore from his 13 carries. Fields said the team has tapered his workload over the week, like not running the typical QB “gassers” in practice. The Bears also may consider dialing back their designed QB runs in games to protect their best player.
“Yeah, I think that's with any players you have to do that,” Getsy said. “If you call seven plays that are directed at Cole Kmet it's gonna be pretty hard for him to do that. So that's with any position, and definitely we're mindful of that for sure.”
Fields’ evolution as a rushing threat feels like the special sauce that’s helped develop the offense as a whole, so by no means should the Bears take that away just in the name of protecting him. It’s football after all, and the team shouldn’t play scared. There are ways to mitigate the wear and tear on Fields however, and the team should continue to do those things to ensure he stays fresh through the end of the season.
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