Second-year quarterback Justin Fields showed flashes of brilliance during the Chicago Bears' preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday despite subpar play from his offensive line.
Fields took 17 snaps over the course of three series, and while the Bears didn't score any points on those drives, Fields wowed the Soldier Field crowd on a few occasions.
The first big play was a 26-yard strike to No. 1 wideout Darnell Mooney to convert on third down:
MOOOOOOOONEY 💰💰💰 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DaBears?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DaBears</a> <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KCvsCHI?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#KCvsCHI</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLNetwork</a><br>📱: Stream on NFL+ <a href="https://t.co/3mvoWh7UD3">https://t.co/3mvoWh7UD3</a> <a href="https://t.co/Zssyq88Qwu">pic.twitter.com/Zssyq88Qwu</a>
Later, Fields found Tajae Sharpe along the sideline for 19 yards despite having heavy pressure in his face:
Just an unbelievable catch from Tajae Sharpe 😳 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DaBears?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DaBears</a> <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KCvsCHI?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#KCvsCHI</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLNetwork</a><br>📱: Stream on NFL+ <a href="https://t.co/3mvoWh7UD3">https://t.co/3mvoWh7UD3</a> <a href="https://t.co/IOJLHvLfd6">pic.twitter.com/IOJLHvLfd6</a>
All told, Fields completed four of his seven passing attempts for 48 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, rushed once for 10 yards and was sacked twice.
Fields was constantly under siege during his rookie season, and both fans and experts seemed to take notice Saturday that more of the same was happening in the early stages of his second NFL season.
The biggest takeaway in terms of social media reaction to the Bears' performance Saturday was general praise for Fields, coupled with criticism for the offensive line for allowing the franchise quarterback to take so many hits:
There were questions regarding the weapons the front office has put around Fields, and that will likely continue to be the case, but Mooney and Sharpe in particular made some encouraging plays to help their quarterback.
Fields will also lean on running back David Montgomery and tight end Cole Kmet, giving him a solid stable of skill-position players to work with.
It is difficult to come up with many redeeming qualities displayed by the O-line, however, and the following tweets are a microcosm of that:
The disparity in these grades handed out to Fields and the offensive line for their performance Saturday says it all about the Bears' issues:
Much like last season, Fields finds himself in a difficult position entering the 2022 campaign, as it seems unlikely he will be protected consistently.
That probably won't lead to many wins for the Bears, meaning most fans will be focused on Fields' development rather than the results of the games:
The Bears are coming off a 6-11 season and figure to be even worse in 2022 after losing key pieces from their defense such as Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman.
Still, there is perhaps more reason for optimism in the future thanks to a coaching change that saw the Bears fire Matt Nagy and replace him with Matt Eberflus.
Fields is the biggest key to the Bears' success moving forward, and while he continues to showcase a skill set that suggests he can be something special, the front office clearly has a lot of work to do when it comes to surrounding him with talent.