The curse of the Ohio State quarterback. Nothing is ever fair for a prospect coming out of Columbus and with good reason. Ohio State University has the biggest history of quarterback busts out of any school by a wide margin. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence either. It seems at first glance that OSU’s track team of receivers abusing angles and the “one cut and a cloud of dust” running attack would stunt any QB’s development.
The adversity makes developing a quarterback’s mental tools difficult. There’s a long list of players coming from the scarlet and grey who couldn’t overcome these challenges. Notable victims include Art Schlichter, Terrelle Pryor, and most recently Dwayne Haskins. I have been skeptical of Justin Fields given how many classic OSU red flags he’s put up.
However, his situation is markedly different from those that came before. For one thing, the Bears are putting Fields in a position to succeed unlike any of his predecessors. He has a stellar supporting cast with Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, David Montgomery, and Cole Kmet. He has a decent offensive line that shouldn’t get him killed barring some serious missteps. Most importantly though, he has a veteran signal-caller to sit and learn behind.
With quarterbacks like Justin Fields, whose main problem is quick, efficient decision-making, the worst possible outcome is getting thrown directly into the fire. You see it with raw QBs all too often.
The most pertinent example being Mitchell Trubisky, who the very same Bears threw into the fire as an inexperienced rookie. Now it appears all parties involved have learned their lesson. Trubisky is a backup in Buffalo, trying to slowly earn a role back in the NFL, while the Bears are giving Fields a veteran quarterback to sit and learn behind.
His Rookie Season
As Andy Dalton plays the game manager role for however long it takes, Fields will sit in the second string and get practice reps. That’s the only way a QB like him can adjust to the speed of the league. How long that adjustment takes is impossible to say.
Fields could be starting by week 4 or next year, depending on a lot of factors. But the most important thing is that he’ll go in when he’s ready, not before. With a little luck, that should allow the Bears to unlock his talent and finally secure their franchise quarterback.