December 06, 2022

Bears Analysis

Bear Down, Nerd Up: Analyzing Justin Fields’ chances to beat Lamar Jackson’s QB rushing record

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields runs away from Miami Dolphins linebacker Jaelan Phillips late in the game against the Dolphins Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Sunday was all about Justin Fields.

Rightfully so. The Bears QB now holds the NFL regular season record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 178 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins. One hundred and seventy-eight. That’s a lot of yards.

Fields reached 20 miles per hour three times on Sunday, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, including on his 61-yard touchdown run. He topped out at 20.72 miles per hour on a 17-yard run in the second quarter. He is leading the NFL in scramble yards, per Next Gen Stats.

Fields is doing incredible things with the football in his hands. Here’s what other numbers stood out this week.

Record-setting: Let’s knock out the numbers you probably already heard in the aftermath of Sunday’s game. Fields’ 178 rushing yards topped Michael Vick’s 2002 single-game record of 173 for a quarterback. Fields finished behind only Colin Kaepernick’s playoff record. Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards in his first career playoff game in 2013.

Fields obliterated Bobby Douglass’ Bears record of 127 rushing yards for a QB, which Douglass did on Dec. 17, 1972. Fields’ 61-yard touchdown run marked the longest touchdown run ever by a Bears quarterback, topping Vince Evans’ 58-yard run in 1980.

Fields ran for 113 yards over expected, per Next Gen Stats, the most by a QB since Next Gen Stats started tracking things in 2016. Fields gained eight first downs on scramble runs, two more than any QB since 2016.

He joins Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson as the only quarterbacks this season to throw for at least three touchdowns and score a rushing touchdown in the same game. Fields became the first player since at least 1950 to rush for 150-plus yards and throw three-plus touchdowns in the same game. His three touchdown passes marked a career high.

So, let’s take stock of where Fields is now. With eight games remaining, he has 602 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns on the season, with 6.6 yards per carry. Lamar Jackson’s 2019 single-season record of 1,206 rushing yards for a QB is seemingly within the realm of possibilities. Over the last four games, Fields is averaging 102 rushing yards per game. Even if that pace slips a little bit, Jackson’s record is entirely possible. Fields needs to average 75.5 rushing yards per game over the final eight games to match Jackson’s record.

If he stays healthy, Fields’ 2022 will almost certainly finish among the best rushing quarterback seasons ever. Only two QBs have ever rushed for 1,000 yards: Jackson (twice, in 2019 and 2020) and Vick (2006). Again, if he stays healthy, Fields is likely to pass Douglass’ team record of 968 rushing yards (in a 14-game season), which was the NFL record until Vick beat it in 2006.

Fields’ biggest competition in the race to top the NFL quarterback rushing record might be Jackson himself. The Ravens’ QB has more rushing yards than Fields through nine games, with 635 yards on 86 attempts (7.4 yards per carry), and is also on pace to finish near his 2019 record.

How fun would it be if both quarterbacks had a shot to beat the record in Week 18?

Hill’s dominance: The Bears defense clearly has some issues to sort out. Nobody is going to blame them for struggling against Miami receiver Tyreek Hill. Hill had seven catches for 143 yards and a touchdown on Sunday – and it was merely his fifth-best game this season.

Hill ran 27 routes in the game and averaged 5.3 yards per route. He is averaging 4.0 yards per route, according to Next Gen Stats, which is by far the highest total for a receiver since 2016.

Hill’s 1,104 receiving yards through nine games are the most by a receiver through nine games in the Super Bowl era.

Century mark: Cody Whitehair appeared in and started his 100th career game for the Bears on Sunday. He is the 28th offensive lineman to appear in 100 games with the Bears.

Charles Leno Jr. was the most recent. Leno played in 102 games for the Bears from 2014-20.

Kmet’s scores: Tight end Cole Kmet scored two touchdown in the game, one week after scoring his first touchdown of the season in Dallas.

Finally, Kmet has become a red zone target for this offense. Kmet was among the players with the most receptions and receiving yards last season without a touchdown (60 catches, 612 yards).

He scored two touchdowns in his first 40 career games. He scored three over the last two games. Football is funny sometimes.

He became the first Bears player – not just tight end but player, period – to score two receiving touchdown in a game since Jimmy Graham caught two against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 27, 2020.

Snap decisions: New receiver Chase Claypool played 26 snaps (or 35% of offensive snaps). That’s a fair amount for a receiver jumping into a new offense.

“Yeah, I can’t imagine,” Kmet said. “We’ve been learning this offense since back in April, and you come in on five days, whatever, six days and try and really get a whole game plan.”

Rookie linebacker Jack Sanborn played 50 snaps (88% of defensive snaps) with Roquan Smith no longer on the roster. That far outpaced third linebacker Joe Thomas (46%). Al-Quadin Muhammad led all defensive ends with 44 snaps (77%).

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.