Bear Down, Nerd Up: The Justin Fields show continues with QB rushing record in sight

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields rushes past Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham during the first half, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Chicago.

Justin Fields continues to do amazing things with his legs. He’s in rare air now. In just his second NFL season, his rushing abilities are already bringing to mind names like Lamar Jackson and Michael Vick.

He has a chance to make it a truly historic season during the final three games.

Here are the stats and figures that stood out this week.

Mr. 1,000: Fields has exactly 1,000 rushing yards on the season. He became the third quarterback ever to do that and this season marks the fourth time a QB has ever done it (Jackson did it twice).

Fields needs 206 more to tie Jackson’s 2019 quarterback record of 1,206 rushing yards. He seems likely to, at the very least, finish second all time.

Here are the only 1,000-yard rushing seasons by a QB in NFL history:

  1. Lamar Jackson, 2019 – 1,206 yards
  2. Michael Vick, 2006 – 1,039 yards
  3. Lamar Jackson, 2020 – 1,005 yards
  4. Justin Fields, 2022 – 1,000 yards

Jackson’s 2020 season and Vick’s 2006 season could be surpassed this week in a matchup against the Buffalo Bills.

To reach the record, Fields needs to average 68.67 rushing yards per game over the final three games. He is currently averaging 76.9 rushing yards per game for the season. Since the Week 6 game against Washington when he really started using his legs, Fields is averaging 100.8 rushing yards per game.

If he can avoid injury the rest of the season, his chances of beating the record look very, very good.

Fields rushed for 95 yards in Sunday’s game against the Eagles. It was the sixth time this season that he rushed for at least 80 yards in a game. It was his fifth consecutive game with 70 or more rushing yards, which is the longest streak by a QB since at least 1950, according to NFL Research.

Crazy run: Fields had less than a 1% chance of picking up a first down when he took off on his epic 39-yard scramble, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

He evaded pressure in the pocket and took off running to his left. He stepped out of bounds at the 9-yard line, otherwise he likely would’ve scored a touchdown.

That was the run that passed Bobby Douglass’ 1972 Bears record of 968 rushing yards by a quarterback.

Too many sacks: Fields allowed six more sacks Sunday. He has now surrendered 46 sacks this season, which leads the league.

Considering his low number of pass attempts, it’s not surprising that the Bears are on pace for a historic sack rate.

Their 15.95% sack rate on the season following Sunday’s game would be the worst in two decades. The Houston Texans allowed sacks on 17% of pass attempts during their inaugural expansion season in 2002. Quarterback David Carr allowed a record 76 sacks that season.

Two years later, they had a 14.01% sack rate in 2004. Carr gave up 49 sacks that year.

Too few sacks: On the flip side, the Bears defense ranks 31st in sack rate at 4.33%, ahead of only Atlanta. Their 17 sacks this season rank dead last in the NFL.

Linebacker Joe Thomas had the team’s lone sack against Philadelphia. He is the 10th different player to record a sack this season for the Bears.

Safety Jaquan Brisker still leads the defense with three sacks this season.

What if they lose out?: No matter what happens during the final three games, this will likely go down as one of the Bears’ worst seasons, record-wise. With the excitement that Fields has provided, it will go down as one of the “best” worst seasons in franchise history. Maybe THE best worst season.

The team will have a promising young quarterback, a top five pick and $120 million in cap space. What’s not to like?

But if the Bears lose out and finish 3-14, they will set the franchise record for losses in a single season. Having a 17-game season, just the second ever, has made that possible.

The franchise’s worst seasons, in terms of losses, were in 1969 and 2016. The 1969 Bears finished 1-13 and probably would’ve lost another game or two if the NFL played 16 games back then. The 2016 team went 3-13. The 1969 Bears had a minus-129 point differential in just 14 games. The 2016 team was minus-120.

These 2022 Bears have just a minus-68 point differential. Considering their record, that is a great spot to be in. They have lost seven games by one possession.

The Bears face the 11-3 Bills, the 7-7 Lions and the 11-3 Vikings to finish out the season.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.