After another close loss, Justin Fields’ shoulder injury could clear the stage for Trevor Siemian – The Denver Post


For those wondering about the official status of Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields after he suffered a left shoulder injury in Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons, coach Matt Eberflus broke out his trusty “we’ll see” stamp Monday.

“Right now, it’s day-to-day,” Eberflus said. “We’ll see where he is on Wednesday. So we’ve got time.”

Is it feasible, Eberflus was asked, that Fields could play Sunday against the New York Jets?

“We’ll see where it goes,” he said. “Day-to-day. We’ll see. Got to evaluate on Wednesday. And then we’ll see where it is from there.”

On the flip side, have the Bears ruled out the possibility that Fields’ injury could be season-ending?

“We have not ruled that out at this point,” Eberflus said. “We’ll see where it is on Wednesday.”

Sorry for the confusion, folks. This is simply part of Eberflus’ coaching DNA and his firmly held belief that concealing injury information gives his team a competitive advantage. So don’t expect many specifics out of Halas Hall on the health of the team’s most important player until a league-mandated injury report is issued after practice Wednesday.

Smart money says Fields may wind up on the shelf for a bit after he landed hard on his left shoulder during a run late in the fourth quarter of the 27-24 loss to the Falcons.

A league source indicated Monday evening that Fields suffered a significant injury to his shoulder that will leave him compromised until further notice. With that in the equation, the last-place Bears would be foolish to rush Fields back into action and could face some difficult decisions in the coming weeks as they weigh his long-term future against his present developmental needs.

The Bears will return to practice Wednesday in Lake Forest, and it’s likely veteran quarterback Trevor Siemian will be taking first-team reps. That would certainly change the story arc for a 3-8 team that has been riding the wave of excitement Fields created over the past month with his productivity and highlight-reel playmaking.

It also would require a significant adjustment to the way the offense operates. The Bears tailored their approach in mid-October to highlight Fields’ athleticism and explosiveness as a runner. Siemian has a different set of tools.

Asked how big of a challenge it would be to reconfigure the offense without Fields, Eberflus expressed little concern.

“I don’t think that would take that much,” he said. “We would just lean on one side of the offense as opposed to leaning on the side that we’ve expanded to to a certain degree. I think that would be a pretty easy transition.

“Trevor is obviously a very smart individual, a very good passer. He has a great grasp of the offense. He’s been here since Day 1. High functional intelligence. We’re excited about that guy.”

Buckle in, Chicago. Fields Fever may be giving way to Trevor Time.

Here’s your Week 11 QB rewind.

Defining moment

Both the play and hit that interrupted Fields’ season were fairly routine. On a quarterback sweep to the left, an aggressive tackle by Falcons cornerback Dee Alford stopped Fields for a 1-yard gain.

Alford detailed what he saw during the sequence on the the Bears’ final drive. He noticed wide receiver Darnell Mooney blocking down on linebacker Rashaan Evans and understood his responsibilities as the edge setter in that situation.

“I was able to beat their offensive linemen with my speed and make the play on Fields,” Alford said.

While Fields absorbed Alford’s hit near his left thigh as he approached the sideline, the quarterback landed hard on his left side and came up wincing. The Bears had to use a timeout to tend to Fields’ shoulder injury.

“I was about to celebrate,” Alford said. “But (safety) Richie Grant is a great teammate and he told me, ‘I think he’s down.’ So I didn’t want to celebrate. I wasn’t trying to (hurt him) or anything like that. I was just being a football player making a play.”

Fields acknowledged his discomfort immediately after he landed but indicated he was OK to continue the possession.

“It was the last drive of the game,” he said. “I was just trying to be there for my teammates and fight through the pain.”

For those wondering why offensive coordinator Luke Getsy called a second consecutive quarterback run with Fields in obvious pain, Eberflus set the record straight Monday, noting the call was actually for a halfback draw to David Montgomery.

“That was just miscommunication on that play between the halfback and quarterback,” Eberflus said.

Fields turned that broken second-down play into a 4-yard pickup. But he turned the ball over on the next snap, a third-and-5 throw that safety Jaylinn Hawkins picked off.

Fields was a beat or two late getting to his check-down read. Then, with poor footwork and shaky fundamentals, he made his final throw of the game with a bit of an awkward hop on a pass to Montgomery and sailed it. Montgomery leaped and got both hands on the ball, but it ricocheted to Hawkins for a loss-sealing interception.

On its own, it was a deflating turnover late in a winnable game. It also marked the third consecutive game the Bears had possession in the final three minutes with a chance to put together a game-tying or go-ahead drive and couldn’t get it done. They dropped to 1-6 this season in games decided by one score.

At some point, Fields and the offense have to clear the hurdle of successfully responding to a game-deciding drive. But he might have to wait a while for his next chance if the shoulder injury sidelines him for a significant chunk of time.

After facing the Jets, the Bears play the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 4 at Soldier Field before a Week 14 open date.

On the bright side

For the fifth consecutive game, Fields had both a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown, tying Kyler Murray’s NFL-record streak. That’s a testament to the way Fields has enlivened this offense since mid-October with his consistent playmaking prowess.

His touchdown pass on the Bears’ opening drive was a thing of beauty, a 16-yard strike to Mooney, who used a switch release against Alford, then picked up a valuable pick from fellow receiver Equanimeous St. Brown to break open up the left sideline. The play design was superb and the execution was crisp.

Fields dropped his throw into the back corner of the end zone for his eighth touchdown pass in the last four games.

Fields’ 4-yard running score also came with an assist from St. Brown, who cleared out linebacker Lorenzo Carter at the point of attack. With a convoy of blockers in front of him, Fields used his vision, made his cut at the right moment and rolled into the end zone untouched.

A month ago, Bears general manager Ryan Poles said he would assess Fields’ growth largely on the flashes he could show. In the five games since Poles made that declaration, there have been more flashes than on the red carpet at a Hollywood premiere.

Fields’ most impressive throw Sunday was a 32-yard, off-script completion to Montgomery up the right sideline on the Bears’ fourth-quarter touchdown drive. Fields broke the pocket with a rollout to his right and directed Montgomery up the sideline. With Carter trailing in coverage, Fields dropped a dime into Montgomery’s hands.

“Justin being Justin,” Montgomery said. “Making things happen.”

Six plays later, Montgomery capped that 13-play, 75-yard drive with a 2-yard run that tied the game at 24.


Fields’ interception — his eighth this season — punctuated a shaky second half for the Bears offense, which scored on only 1 of 4 possessions and totaled only 99 yards after halftime.

The Bears had been on a heater since Week 7, scoring at least 28 points in four consecutive games and scoring in double digits in nine consecutive halves, including Sunday’s 17-point first half.

But the breakdowns outnumbered the big plays in the second half.

Fields was sacked three times on the first two possessions of the third quarter with both drives ending in punts. He was 7 of 9 passing in the second half for 82 yards with a 65.0 rating.

For a variety of reasons, the Bears were out of sync too often in the second half. Receivers had difficulty getting open. The offensive line malfunctioned in pass protection at times. Fields showed moments of hesitance or jitteriness in the pocket.

Throughout the afternoon, the Falcons used a mesh charge approach to contain the Bears’ zone-read running game, sending a defensive end vertically toward the mesh point and limiting Fields’ explosive runs within those concepts.

Fields rushed for 85 yards on 18 attempts, but his 4.7 yards per rush was his lowest average since Week 2.

Falcons defenders were full of praise for Fields after the game.

“Man, he can really extend plays,” Alford said. “We had them in third-down situations often and he was able to break tackles, break free and extend the play. Shouts out to Justin Fields. He’s a good ballplayer.”

Added defensive lineman Grady Jarrett: “He’s so quick, man. In all directions. If you’re coming at him up the middle, he can roll out. If you’re coming from the side, he can step up. And at the last minute, he has that knack for doing great things.”

Still, the Falcons felt like they established a good plan to limit the Bears, then executed it well.

“Basically we knew we had to tackle well, make the plays that came our way,” Alford said. “We knew if we could get them into third-and-long, we could force Justin Fields to sit in the pocket. Then our D-Line did its thing, got us a few sacks. … Our goal was to keep them one-dimensional.”

Odds and ends

  • The Bears converted 9 of 16 third-down opportunities. That marked the third consecutive game and fourth time this season they had a success rate of 50% or above. Believe it or not, the Bears are now fifth in the league on third down at 45.6%. Coming out of Week 5 in October, they were 28th at 35%. Perhaps the most notable conversion Sunday was a third-and-12 completion to St. Brown for 14 yards after Fields danced in and out of the pocket for more than 10 seconds before finding an opening and throwing.
  • Cole Kmet’s 24-yard reception may not compete with Justin Jefferson’s mind-blowing 32-yard reception for the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills earlier this month. But Kmet’s one-handed snag of a Fields pass up the seam deserves to be in that consideration. It wasn’t just that Kmet speared the ball out of the air with his right palm while jumping, it’s that he maintained full control of the catch despite being drilled by cornerback A.J. Terrell as soon as he touched the football. Kmet’s scoring streak ended at three games, but he got the consolation prize of having the top play on ESPN’s “Top 10″ list for Sunday.
  • The Bears still have the league’s 32nd-ranked passing offense, averaging 128.1 yards. They have been held below 200 net passing yards in all but one game this season, and Sunday marked the seventh time they didn’t top 150. Their 3.5% interception rate is also worst in the NFL.



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