Ohio State Football: Justin Fields’ debut likes and dislikes

Aug 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) passes the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) passes the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

The former Ohio State football player played in his first preseason game yesterday. Here’s how we grade Justin Fields’ performance.

As any good Buckeye fan knows, Justin Fields made his long-awaited debut yesterday afternoon with the Chicago Bears. He entered the game early in the second quarter and, after a bit of a slow start, finished 14-20 for 142 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown. Here are a few things I liked and disliked about his performance.


Poise – Not everything went as planned in his first few series, but you’d never know it looking at Fields. Play calls got to him very late a few times and that lead to penalties (I’ll get to this later), he had to deal with a horrible shotgun snap that became a fumble, he fumbled on a scramble, and nearly had a pass intercepted when a receiver tripped. Through it all, Fields remained calm.

Progressively more comfortable – In his first three series, you could see him making some small steps here and there. When he came out for his fourth set of plays, he looked like a different quarterback. The Bears got the ball back with just 45 seconds to play in the half.

Fields did a very good job executing the two-minute drill and led his team into field goal position. In a post-game interview, he said the game began to slow down for him. This is the series you can point to that beginning to happen. When he led the Bears on an eight-play, 77-yard drive to start the third quarter, he looked like a quarterback in complete control of his team.

Knowing when to not throw the ball – Coaches will tell you they love a quarterback who knows when to throw the football. Coaches will also tell you they REALLY love a quarterback who knows when to NOT throw the football. If there is one thing I liked most about Justin Fields yesterday it was he did not try to force the ball into coverage.

If he didn’t like what he saw down the field, he went to his check-down receiver. Did he do this too quickly? Did he make the correct read? We don’t know those things, but we do know he didn’t force bad throws.

Ball placement – Time and again Justin Fields put the ball where it had to be thrown. There were times his receivers failed to get open, but Fields put the ball in the only place he could to give them a chance to make a play on it. I thought his accuracy was very impressive.

Learning to use his legs – On his first scramble, he learned two very valuable lessons: everyone in the NFL is fast and makes sure you tuck the ball away. From that point, he really began using his legs to his advantage. On one play he looked like he was going to take off up the field and sucked in the defensive back, Fields calmly dumped the ball to the open receiver.

On another play, he took off for a 21-yard gain. He showed how dangerous he can be in the red zone when he was forced out of the pocket and scored. Eventually, he’ll better learn how to keep a play alive with his eyes downfield and find open receivers. But, it is obvious his athleticism is going to give defenses problems.

So, there was a lot of good we saw from Fields. Here are a few things I didn’t like.


Throwing off his back foot – Don’t. Just…don’t. Fields did this a few times yesterday. While it showed his arm strength, it will eventually lead to disaster. You can’t get away with doing that consistently in the NFL.

Scrambling in the end zone – He’ll eventually learn you don’t scramble in your own end zone. It too easily creates situations for your linemen to get caught holding (keep in mind any offensive penalty in the end zone is a safety). Step up in the pocket and get rid of the ball. Throw it away if you have to, but get rid of it in a timely manner and don’t scramble.

Late play calls – This is more of a criticism of the Bears’ coaching staff. Twice on Fields’ first series, the play call came in very late, and the team did not get to the line of scrimmage until there were just a handful of seconds on the play clock. It isn’t a good idea to do this to a veteran quarterback. It’s a really bad idea to do it to a rookie because it takes them a beat or two longer to make their pre-snap read.

Haters and trolls – Many have said he did it against Miami’s backups. Do you think Fields was out there with the Bears’ starting offense? Those were backups up as well. Nice try at disparaging his performance, but it isn’t going to work.

One thing that struck me yesterday was the excitement of the fans when he entered the game. Soldier Field came alive. There was a buzz going through the stadium. Bears fans are EXCITED about Justin Fields. Even the guy wearing the Bears head in 85-degree heat. He had to be suffocating in that thing and he was STILL excited.

Next. Why Ohio State Football will win it all. dark

Bears’ fans have a reason to be excited about their quarterback of the future.