The Chicago Bears thought they were getting a franchise building block when they drafted Justin Fields 11th overall. And may very well become one player but he's not off to a good start. In fact, he currently shares a dubious record with former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
As NFL on CBS recently noted on a social media post, Gabbert and Fields are the only quarterbacks to have a win percentage record below .200 in their first 27 career starts over the last 40 yards. However you look at it, that's not great news. Granted, it's not all his fault.
The truth is that the Bears haven't put him in a position to succeed. As respected Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire noted, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy hasn't been able to figure out how to maximize Fields' talent. Ted Nguyen of The Athletic echoed the same sentiment.
If that wasn't enough, it's hard to win many games when your defense can't stop opposing teams from reaching the end zone. In two games, Chicago has given up 65 points, good for 31st in the league. Last year, they finished dead last.
It's true that Fields tallied over 1,000 rushing yards in 2022 and there's value in having a dual-threat behind center but you don't want to expose your starting quarterback to so many hits. Patrick Mahomes does a great job of navigating the pocket and has a great feel for the rush. However, he'll beat you with his arm first and only run when necessary.
The bottom line is that Bears' coaching staff isn't doing Fields any favors but at some point, he also needs to share some of the blame.
Former Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert has carved a niche, Justin Fields has time to hit his stride
Just like Fields, Gabbert was a first-round pick, 11th overall in 2010. He struggled as a rookie and didn't get much better in his sophomore campaign, his inability to feel the pass rush was a big reason why. The Jags pulled the plug on him after three unremarkable years. The former Mizzou Tiger then spent time with the San Francisco 49ers, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Tennesse Titans before landing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was clear early in his NFL career that Gabbert wasn't a starting quarterback but he carved a niche as a backup. He's currently the No. 2 behind Patrick Mahomes for the Kansas City Chiefs. While there's no shame in becoming a journeyman, it's fair to assume that the Jags expected a bit more from him. Then again, that's the nature of the draft. Even the best times have their fair share of flops, especially in the first round, where the success rate is no better than that of a coin flip.
Having said that, Gabbert wasn't the only miss the Jags had in the late 2000s and early 2010s. In fact, they weren't very good at drafting at that time. Among the players the Jags picked at that time were Derrick Harvey, Luke Jockel, Eugene Monroe, Tyson Alualu, and Justin Blackmon. Of the bunch, only Gabbert remains in the league, and that's worth praising.
The difference between Blaine Gabbert and Justin Fields is that the former reached his ceiling a long time ago while the latter still has time to turn things around. He certainly has the talent. Now, he's got to change the narrative.