Videos by OutKick
Justin Fields is already 3-0 in his 2022 Redemption Tour even if he doesn’t play Sunday.
Fields, who is nursing an injured left shoulder, and Chicago are slated to play the Jets at New York on Sunday. While the Bears are only 3-7, it’s notable that two of the three victories are against San Francisco and New England.
Those are two teams of the four teams that either took quarterbacks in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft and passed on Fields or, in New England’s case, didn’t think enough of him to trade up when it had a chance. The Jets, who took Zach Wilson and have now benched him for poor play and lack of leadership, would be the third team that would have to admit it missed on the choice between Fields and who they ended up taking.
While that admission is obvious because Fields’ physical skill is becoming so overwhelming so fast, it’s also about makeup. Fields is showing he is mentally strong enough to play football’s toughest position.
“He’s aware of that. This matchup means something, just like the opener against the 49ers meant something when he got to face (49ers quarterback and 2021 No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance),” said a person close to Fields. “He won’t say it publicly, but he carries a grudge like any great athlete. That’s part of his makeup.”
Psychological Makeup A Theme For Justin Fields, Zach Wilson
Psychological makeup is a theme this season for Fields and Wilson. As Fields shows the maturity and work ethic to take advantage of his physical talent, Wilson has been squandering his skills because he doesn’t know what he’s doing.
If Wilson’s lackluster play and failure to improve hasn’t been enough, Fields has already surpassed his production and progression on the field even though Fields was drafted nine picks later. The concerns people had about Fields being able to read defenses after coming out of the spread offense at Ohio State that was designed by Urban Meyer are starting to fade.
Instead, it’s Wilson, who came out of pass-happy BYU, who is now a giant question mark in terms of his understanding of offense.
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky pointed that out when he showed four plays from the Jets loss to New England where Wilson simply didn’t know where the ball was supposed to go based on the design of the play and the coverage. That left teammates such as left tackle Duane Brown frustrated during the game.
The situation only got worse after the game when Wilson denied that he had let down the defense. That caused head coach Robert Saleh to bench Wilson.
While the decision seems logical, the scout said it’s going to be akin to a scarlet letter for Wilson to have to deal with.
“Think about the scrutiny that (Wilson is) going to get in the locker room. The players will be convinced even more that Wilson is (weak),” the scout said before the decision to bench Wilson was announced. “I know (the Jets are) thinking about the playoffs, but I’d keep running that kid out there to find out what he’s made of. Either he’s going to sink or swim. Either way, you have to know … They need to find out about the quarterback.
“Look, there’s a reason I had a third-round grade on (Wilson) even though he can really throw it. He’s not a tough kid. He’s a baby-faced, surfer-looking dude who wasn’t even a starter before his last year at BYU. You think that 30-year-old men in that locker room look at him and think, ‘Man, that’s a tough guy?’”
Bears Finding Out About Fields Very Quickly
Conversely, the scout said that Chicago is finding out about Fields very quickly. As the scout noted, Fields was a power lifting champion in high school, a top-rated high school quarterback and then one of the top-rated prospects in the 2021 draft.
“This guy is tough. Think about what it takes to compete in power lifting like that. That’s a lot of pain that you have to deal with on a daily basis. And I think the top-rated thing is important, too. He has been highly regarded and lived up to it for a long time. You see a lot of guys who were studs in high school, then they fade, or a guy who has one big year in college like Wilson and then comes out to cash out,” the scout said.
“Now, I say that and by next year, we could be talking about a breakout year for Wilson, but I don’t see it. I just know the Jets better find out sooner than later. Sitting him isn’t going to get him ready.”