Bears

Bear Down, Nerd Up: Justin Fields does it again – and the Bears help their draft slot

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields gets congratulations from Chicago Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool after a long touchdown run in the fourth quarter of their game Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Justin Fields is at it again.

The Bears’ quarterback just keeps on running. Until opponents adjust and figure out a way to slow him down, there’s no reason to change the approach.

Fields ran for another 147 yards and two touchdowns, one week after totaling 178 yards and a touchdown. He became the first Bears player to run for at least 147 yards in two consecutive games since Walter Payton in 1984.

Here’s what other weird and whacky stats made this week unique.

More on Fields’ day: Fields is the first Bears quarterback with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games ever. He is the first Bears player, regardless of position, to rush for 100 yards in back-to-back games since Jordan Howard did so in Weeks 16 and 17 at the end of the 2016 season.

Fields has rushed for 325 yards in the past two games. That is the most all time by an NFL quarterback in a two-game span. He beat out Lamar Jackson’s 268 combined yards in back-to-back games in October 2019. Over the past five games, Fields has run for 555 yards, the most by a quarterback in a five-game span in the Super Bowl era.

Fields’ 749 rushing yards on the season are drawing closer to Bobby Douglass’ team record for a QB of 968 yards. At this rate, Fields might get there in two or three games. In just 10 games, Fields’ 749 yards are already the 15th most ever by an NFL quarterback in a season. As I noted last week, he has a chance to break Lamar Jackson’s single-season QB record of 1,206 from 2019. Those chances have only increased now.

A week ago, Fields had three of the top 20 fastest runs by a ball carrier in the NFL during Week 9, per Next Gen Stats. In Week 10, he made the top 20 twice, topping out at 20.41 miles per hour on his 28-yard run at the start of the game. He touched 20.15 miles per hour on his 67-yard touchdown run.

Fields has touched 20 miles per hour on seven runs this season. All other NFL quarterbacks have combined for nine runs of 20 miles per hour.

Per STATS, Fields is the first quarterback in NFL history with touchdown runs of 60 yards or more in consecutive games.

According to Next Gen Stats, Fields has totaled 245 rushing yards and three touchdowns on designed runs over the last four games. His 132 yards on 10 designed runs Sunday were the most by a QB since Next Gen Stats began tracking player data in 2016.

On his first touchdown of the game, which came on a scramble, Fields evaded pass rushers left and right and totaled 34.2 yards traveled on a 1-yard touchdown score. It was the longest a player had traveled on a 1-yard touchdown run since 2016, per Next Gen Stats.

Draft implications: Sunday’s loss was a major disappointment for the Bears, but a major win for the Bears’ draft position. At 3-7, they are currently in the mix for a top-five pick. If the season ended today, they would select sixth overall, according to Tankathon.com.

The Bears are among four teams sitting at 3-7. The first tiebreaker for draft position is strength of schedule. The team with the weaker schedule is awarded the higher pick. Carolina is 3-7 but played a weaker schedule than the other 3-7 teams, so they currently would hold the third overall pick.

By virtue of facing the AFC East, where all four teams currently have a winning record, and a tougher-than-expected NFC East, all NFC North teams have a pretty highly rated strength of schedule. If the Bears won on Sunday and were 4-6 right now, they would likely be selecting 14th as opposed to sixth.

There is, of course, a lot of football to play. A lot can change over eight weeks.

Kmet scores twice: Tight end Cole Kmet scored a pair of touchdowns, including a 50-yard bomb from Fields. Kmet has scored five touchdowns in the past three games, after not scoring at all during the 2021 season.

With five touchdowns, Kmet is now tied for second in the league among NFL tight ends. Kansas City’s Travis Kelce has eight touchdowns, while Baltimore’s Mark Andrews is even with Kmet with five scores.

Pass rush: With regards to the Bears’ pass rush, the analytics back up the eye test.

The film indicates that the Bears are creating almost no pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That has been especially true since the team traded Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Quinn.

Over the past two games, not a single Bears’ pass rusher has matched the league average in Next Gen Stats’ “average separation from the QB” metric. Like the name indicates, the metric measures how far a pass rusher is (in yards) away from the quarterback at the time the QB either threw the ball or was sacked.

Defensive end Trevis Gipson has rated the best in this metric over those two games, with a 4.93-yard average against the Lions and a 4.96-yard average against Miami. The league average is 4.53 yards. No other Bears pass rusher has been under five yards in either game. The Bears were playing without starting defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad against the Lions.

Defensive tackle Justin Jones has been the second-best pass rusher over these two games, with a five-yard average Sunday and a 5.49-yard average against Miami. But when a defensive tackle is the second-best pass rusher, that usually says more about the lack of talent on the edge than it does about the tackle in the middle.

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.