Bears’ Matt Eberflus says quarterback Justin Fields in good spot

Bears should know more of Fields’ status Wednesday

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields is sacked by Minnesota Vikings offensive linebacker DJ Wonnum during the first play of the game on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023 at Soldier Field.

LAKE FOREST – The Bears soon could get clarity whether starting quarterback Justin Fields will make his return from a dislocated thumb on his throwing hand against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Coach Matt Eberflus told reporters Monday at Halas Hall that he thought Fields was in a good spot and that the team will know more about his status Wednesday when the team has a complete team practice.

“His functioning in the game of football, that’s the big part of it, and that’s really the only update I have,” Eberflus said. “Once we see him in the game of football, in terms of going against the scout team and all that stuff, taking snaps and playing full speed, we’ll make a determination.”

The Bears held a light practice in helmets Monday since the team is in a “mini-bye” after beating the Carolina Panthers on Thursday. They worked on individual drills to get the players back in the swing of things after the weekend off with a split walk-through at the end.

Eberflus wouldn’t say Monday whether Fields was medically cleared to practice.

Fields hasn’t played since he dislocated his thumb against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6. He returned to practice Nov. 3 and was limited much of last week when the team held mostly walk-throughs.

Eberflus said Fields has been positive during his absence and in a good spot mentally. Fields also has used the time away to look at the tape during his first six games and evaluate what he needs to do once he returns.

“That’s an important part of getting better,” Eberflus said. “How do you utilize your time during injury to keep your wind up … but also mentally really focus on your job and how you’re going to do it better. It comes down to the fundamentals and technique of your position, it’s about the details, you getting with our coach, partnering with your coach in order to get that done.”

Backup Tyson Bagent has started in the four games Fields has missed and led the Bears to a 2-2 record. He has completed 65.7% of his passes for 859 yards, throwing three touchdowns and six interceptions, sometimes looking like an undrafted rookie from Division II Shepherd University.

“His functioning in the game of football, that’s the big part of it and that’s really the only update I have. Once we see him in the game of football, in terms of going against the scout team and all that stuff, taking snaps and playing full speed, we’ll make a determination.”

—  Matt Eberflus, Bears head coach

Eberflus has been pleased with the work Bagent has done in Fields’ absence. But Eberflus also knows how much Fields can change the offense with his experience.

“He’s been through it the whole year, understands the concepts, that is part of it,” Eberflus said. “The ability to stretch the field vertically and horizontally in the run game as well.”

Fields and the Bears enter a critical stretch for the future of the franchise during the last seven games of the season. With a 3-7 record, a playoff push seems doubtful, but the Bears soon will need to make a decision on whether Fields is their quarterback of the future.

Some of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL received contract extensions after impressive third seasons, notably Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow. Bears general manager Ryan Poles will need to decide whether he’ll do that with Fields or use either the Panthers’ or Bears’ first-round draft picks to choose Fields’ successor.

Eberflus said Fields’ performance against the Washington Commanders a week before he injured his thumb was a good blueprint for what the Bears want to see out of their quarterback. Fields completed 15 of his 29 passes for 282 yards, throwing four touchdowns with no interception.

The Bears are eager to see whether Fields can replicate that performance down the stretch. They’ll know more Wednesday whether he’ll get his shot against the Lions.

“There’s a lot of things that he brings to the table and again, once he’s healthy, he’ll be back and he’ll be our starter,” Eberflus. “We’ll see where it is.”

Michal Dwojak

Michal Dwojak

Michal is a sports enterprise reporter who for Shaw Local, covering the CCL/ESCC for Friday Night Drive and other prep sports for the Northwest Herald. He also is a Chicago Bears contributing writer. He previously was the sports editor for the Glenview Lantern, Northbook Tower, Malibu Surfside News.