There is reportedly some thought within the NFL that Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields will have a tough go during his second season because of a lack of quality supporting cast members around him.
According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, an anonymous AFC scout commented on Fields' prospects for 2022, saying: "God bless him and good luck. Good thing he can make things happen on his own. Long road ahead."
Fields had plenty of ups and downs as a rookie last season after the Bears selected him 11th overall in the 2021 NFL draft, and now he is set to enter his first full season as Chicago's starter under center.
After a standout collegiate career at Ohio State, Fields was heralded as the savior of the franchise when the Bears drafted him.
Despite that, Fields began as a backup behind veteran Andy Dalton before starting 10 of the 12 games he appeared in. Fields likely would have started even more games if not for a rib injury and a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Fields largely struggled as a passer, completing 58.9 percent of his attempts for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but he did plenty of damage with his legs, rushing for 420 yards and two scores.
All told, Fields went 2-8 as a starter for a Bears team that went 6-11 in 2021 and is likely to be even worse in 2022.
Chicago has experienced some major losses on both sides of the ball, including pass-rusher Khalil Mack, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, wide receiver Allen Robinson II, tight end Jimmy Graham and offensive lineman James Daniels.
Fields' top returning offensive weapons are wide receiver Darnell Mooney, running back David Montgomery and tight end Cole Kmet. All of them have potential, but none are considered to be anywhere close to the top of their respective positions in the NFL.
In terms of additions, the Bears brought in wide receiver Byron Pringle in free agency from the Kansas City Chiefs and selected wideout Velus Jones Jr. out of Tennessee in the third round of the 2022 draft.
There simply aren't many big-time playmakers around Fields, and that could make it tough for him to improve in his second season.
The fact that Fields can improvise and make plays with his legs when needed should help him, but it is difficult to envision him putting up big passing numbers or the Bears winning a lot of games in 2022.