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Justin Fields Could be the Next Elite Quarterback

It has been a rollercoaster ride for Justin Fields in his first two years in the league. He posted very bad numbers in his first season, throwing for only seven touchdowns to 10 interceptions.


Many people give him a reprieve for this because his coach was Matt Nagy, who was known around the league for being a notoriously bad play caller.


Nagy was subsequently fired, and the Bears replaced him with former Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Fields’ second season started off rocky as well but after week five, he began to take the league by storm with his otherworldly running ability. It’s starting to look like he is following the trajectory of many other elite quarterbacks.


Comparisons


There are a handful of quarterbacks who are elite runners whose passing abilities took a few years to catch up with their legs. The names that jump to mind when thinking about this are Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, and Jalen Hurts.


All three began as elite runners who were very limited in the passing game for a plethora of reasons, but the one common denominator between the three of them is they all took a huge leap after their first few seasons.


Josh Allen


During his first couple years Allen put up a measly 30 touchdowns and 21 interceptions with 3,100 yards or less both seasons. However, the Bills knew when they drafted him that he would be a project player.


In his third season, he finally put it all together. Allen would go on to throw for over 4,500 yards and 37 touchdowns, an enormous leap from his first two years in the league. He was an MVP candidate that year and hasn’t looked back since.

 

Russell Wilson


Wilson was much better than the other two quarterbacks he was grouped with, Allen and Hurts, but this was mainly because teams were keying on Marshawn Lynch and Seattle’s vaunted defense, the Legion of Boom. His first three years in the NFL, Wilson threw 72 touchdowns to just 26 interceptions.


However, after this span, Wilson would solidify himself as a household name and a Bonafide superstar. He went on to throw at least 30 touchdowns five out of the next six seasons and take the Seahawks to the playoffs each year. Much like Allen, once Wilson ascended to the elite quarterback he never left.


Jalen Hurts


Hurts is much more comparable to Allen because of his mediocre passing stats and potent rushing numbers. Neither Hurts nor Allen began their rookie seasons as the starter, and once Hurts got the job, he would go on to throw 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions over the next year and a half.


He had much of Philadelphia and the national media calling for his job and for the Eagles to draft or trade for another quarterback. It was looking like a make-or-break year.-


This past year in his third season, Hurts took the league by storm, leading the MVP race up until his injury late in the season. He finished the season with 22 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions and 3,701 yards passing.


These numbers are not as gaudy as Allen’s because Hurts missed two games and got taken out of a number of games late because his team was up by so much. He ran for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns as he established himself as the premiere dual-threat quarterback in the NFL


Connection to Fields


After reviewing the path all three of those quarterbacks took to reach their current stature in the league, it is hard to see a scenario where Fields does not follow in their footsteps.


He is still waiting for his arm to catch up to his legs, but even his legs may be able to carry him to a storied career. He came just 64 yards short of setting the NFL record for most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback.


Much like Allen, the Bears knew he would be a project when he was drafted, which is why he did not start to begin his first season. They knew coming out of college that he had a rocket for an arm and could run with anybody in the league.


Going into his second season in an offense that is tailored towards his gifts, Fields seems to be in an advantageous position. The Bears just need to continue building up the team around him to alleviate some of the pressure currently on his shoulders.

 

 

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