September 24, 2023

Bears Analysis

Top 25 most important Bears in 2023: No. 1 Justin Fields

Fields rushed for 1,143 yards, 8 touchdowns in 2022

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields carries the ball during their game against the Eagles Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Shaw Local is counting down the top 25 most important Bears for the 2023 season.

What makes one player more important than another? That’s subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?

The best player on the team isn’t always the most important, but he certainly can be. We will announce one player every day between now and the start of training camp.

No. 1 Justin Fields

Position: Quarterback

NFL experience: Third season

Last year’s ranking: No. 1

Looking back: Entering the 2022 season, Bears general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus were reluctant to fully declare Justin Fields the quarterback of the future. They were in wait-and-see mode. What they saw in 2022 was a QB who ran for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns, kept his team close in games (seven one-possession losses), and made the most of a bad situation around him. It was enough for the Bears to move ahead with Fields as their QB in 2023. When Poles traded away the No. 1 overall draft pick in March, it was an endorsement of Fields.

The QB was electric running the football last season. Only Michael Vick has ever rushed for more yards in a single season as a quarterback. The passing game, however, lagged. Fields threw for 2,242 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He played with a weak receiving group, which lost Darnell Mooney to a season-ending ankle injury in late November.

Looking forward: If the Bears are going to sink or swim in 2023, it will be with Fields. As the QB goes, so too will the team. The Bears have bolstered the offensive line and given Fields a new marquee weapon in receiver DJ Moore. If the team is to improve on its 3-14 season from a year ago, it will need to see a much-improved offense, particularly in the passing game.

Fields showed some signs of brilliance as a passer at times last year, but Poles and Eberflus need to see more of that. His running abilities are elite, but the Bears know he needs to evolve as a passer in today’s NFL. With more trusted receivers on the field, especially Moore, Fields should look to throw into more tight windows. A better O-line should mean he can stand in the pocket for a split second longer, too. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy can look at what the team did in the middle of the season – when the offense improved, but before injuries derailed things – as a blueprint for what Fields does best. Move the pocket to find throwing lanes. Allow him to create in space.

If things go well this season, the Bears will know that they have their QB of the future. If things don’t go well, at least they will have an answer on Fields. There’s no player more important to this team, this year, than Justin Fields.

In case you missed it: Previous installments of the top 25

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.