Bears

Chicago Bears just want refs to treat Justin Fields like other QBs

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields holds his shoulder after a hard tackle by an Atlanta Falcons defender late in the second half, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in Atlanta.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields took a quarterback draw, ran right up the middle, slid short of the first-down marker and took a hard hit to the helmet from Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett.

The refs declined to throw a penalty flag.

It’s a story Bears fans have seen play out over and over again since Fields became the starting quarterback last year. Their mobile, athletic quarterback isn’t drawing the same penalty calls that his less mobile counterparts might. The NFL is all in with regards to protecting quarterbacks from the types of hits that might put them at risk.

But when Fields becomes a runner – something he’s doing at a record pace lately – the penalty flags seem to stay in the referees’ pockets.

“Maybe because he’s strong, he’s physical,” rookie safety Jaquan Brisker said after Sunday’s game. “I don’t know, but he’s a quarterback. I feel like he should get the same. It should be equal just like everybody else.”

Fields was bruised and battered following Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He needed X-rays on his ailing left shoulder, an injury that head coach Matt Eberflus declined to elaborate on Monday afternoon at Halas Hall. Eberflus described the injury as “day-to-day” for Fields, but also declined to rule out if it could be season ending.

The Bears likely will shed a little more light on the situation Wednesday, when Fields is next scheduled to speak with the media and when the team must release its next injury report.

Eberflus indicated the Bears would send Jarrett’s late hit on Fields to the league for review, something teams do every week with questionable calls.

“We have to do a better job in the league, the total league has to do a good job of that,” Eberflus said Monday. “Again, these guys are special. All these quarterbacks are special. We’ve got to do a great job of protecting them when they are on the sideline and when they are in the open field.”

It’s especially tough when the opposing QB is getting calls. On Sunday, Bears cornerback Kyler Gordon was called for roughing the passer on a key third down in the third quarter. The penalty kept the drive alive and resulted in a Falcons touchdown two plays later.

Brisker said it’s hard to see his quarterback not drawing flags when the opponent “tripped over himself” and got the call. That wasn’t an entirely accurate statement – Gordon did appear to swipe Mariota’s leg – but the sentiment remains the same. The penalty on Mariota was far from a malicious hit and it was definitely not late either.

“I feel the league has to look at that,” Brisker said. “It’s crazy how many times [Fields] gets hit in the head every single game and he still gets up. Gets hit out of bounds late, or near the white [line], and if that was Tom Brady, Jared Goff, anybody like that, they’d throw flags immediately.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.