Fields held the ball for longest average time this season Sunday

Fields held the ball for longest average time this season originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Justin Fields holds the ball for a long time.

Fields took an average of 4.07 seconds to throw the ball on Sunday against the Lions, according to Zebra Technologies statistics. He only threw the ball 20 times, but the fact remains he is spending a considerable amount of time with the ball in his hands.

This has been an issue talked about ad nauseam, especially at the beginning of the season. But this time, unlike during the first weeks, he can. He has the wheels and a growing sixth sense to avoid trouble in the backfield.

However, the recurring problem is one to look back into, after we deciphered the issue earlier in the year when his sacks were interrupting the Bears' ability to move the ball.

MORE: Is Justin Fields holding the ball too long?

There are reasons for this, similar to those at the start of the season.

The offensive line has seen seven different combinations through 10 games this season. The injury bug caught multiple linemen throughout the season, including Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick, Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins.

Partnering with the offensive line, the wide receiver separation has been abysmal. Like the offensive line, injuries have riddled this group too. N'Keal Harry and Byron Pringle had stints on the injured reserve list, and Velus Jones Jr. started the season in street clothes with a hamstring injury.

Nonetheless, the pass-catching group has failed to gain separation on their defenders most of the season. A month ago, the group ranked last in the NFL in terms of average separation from their defenders.

The two-pronged problem between the offensive line and wide receiver group is a recipe for failure.

Yet, the Bears' offense has become more prolific since the season's early stages. They've scored 29 or more points in the last four games. But, rest assured, it's not because either group resolved their issues.

Ryan Poles brought in Chase Claypool to help the pass-catching needs, but he's yet to be effectively involved in the offense. As for the o-line, every starter outside of Jenkins ranks in the top 10 in their position for most allowed pressures to the quarterback.

The only tangible support the group has seen is the play-calling from offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Since his implementation to let Fields run the ball on quarterback-designed run plays, it's opened up doors in the passing game.

Look back at Fields and Kmet's 50-yard touchdown connection on Sunday. Kmet was wide open on the play. That's play-calling.

So the answer remains –  yes, Fields is holding the ball for too long. But, it's for reasons he can't control. The offensive line and wide receivers need upgrades, and that's entirely out of his authority.

At least, for now, Fields' ability to escape the pocket and use his legs more often is a constant solution to what would be a stagnant, futile offense without him.

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