Quarterback Justin Fields Returns to the Chicago Bears in Week 11

Posted on: November 16, 2023, 11:14h. 

Last updated on: November 17, 2023, 04:52h.

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields returns as the starter this week after missing four games with a right thumb injury.

Bears QB Justin Fields
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields clutches his hand after suffering a thumb injury against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. (Image: Getty)

Fields sustained a dislocated and sprained thumb on his throwing hand in a game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6.

Head coach Matt Eberflus named Fields as the Week 11 starter.

It’s not 100% but it feels good,” said Fields before practice on Wednesday. “There’s still a little bit of healing left. But, it’s stable. Like I said, it’s good.”

Prior to his injury, Fields completed 61.7% of his passes for 1,201 yards with 11 touchdowns this season. He threw six interceptions and was sacked 24 times.

Even though Fields rushed for 1,143 yards and eight rushing touchdowns last season, he didn’t post impressive numbers on the ground this season. In six games, he rushed for 237 yards on 47 carries with just one rushing score.

Backup Tyson Bagent Went 2-2 as a Starter

When Fields went down with a thumb injury against the Vikings, the Bears had no choice but to turn to undrafted backup Tyson Bagent. Although the Vikings edged out the Bears, 19-13, Bagent looked competent in his pro debut. He completed 10 of 14 passes for 83 yards and scored a rushing touchdown in the defeat.

Bagent was a star at Shepherd University, a Division II in West Virginia. He won the Harlon Hill Trophy, which is the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. Although Bagent wasn’t selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Bears signed him. He secured a spot on the team after an impressive training camp and preseason.

Bagent led the Bears to a 2-2 record over the last four weeks, with victories against the Las Vegas Raiders and Carolina Panthers. He completed 65.7% of his passes for 859 yards, with three touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed for 109 yards and added two rushing touchdowns.

Bagent returns to backup duties but proved his worth in the league. When Bagent took over as the starter, the Bears were 1-5. The Bears are now 3-7 upon Fields’ return.

Fields: Future with Bears in Limbo

The Bears selected Fields with the #11 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he failed to live up to lofty expectations after leading Ohio State to a 20-2 record during his two seasons as a starter in college.

Fields has a 6 – 25 record as the starting quarterback of the Bears during his first three seasons. He went 2-8 as a rookie, and 3-12 last season.

Fields has one more year remaining on his contract, and the Bears have a fifth-year option for the 2025 season. The Bears could trade him at the end of the season, but Fields shrugged off any future quarterback controversy.

Everybody wants to cause a stir, cause media attention, boom, boom, boom, comments, stories,” said Fields. “So that’s just what comes with it. I knew that was going to happen from the get-go. It came to me as no surprise. I was coming in the building every day being the same guy I was before I was hurt. Just trying to be the best leader I can be.”

The Bears have two first-round draft picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, including one from the Carolina Panthers (1-8), which they acquired for trading down in the 2023 NFL Draft. If the season ended today, the Bears would have the #1 and #5 picks in the upcoming draft.

Multiple outlets reported that the Bears will move in another direction at quarterback next season, and attempt to draft Caleb Williams from USC or Drake Maye from North Carolina. Williams and Maye are the top two quarterback prospects in the incoming draft.

“I’m not here to prove anything to anybody,” added Fields. “I’m playing for my teammates, playing for the coaches, and that’s it. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Fading the Bears

The Bears are 3-7 and play two divisional road games versus the Detroit Lions and Vikings over the next two weeks, before a bye in Week 13.

After the bye, the Bears host three home games against the Lions (Week 14), Arizona Cardinals (Week 16) on Christmas Eve, and Atlanta Falcons (Week 17) on New Year’s Eve. The Bears hit the road for two more games after their bye against the banged-up Cleveland Browns (Week 15) and the Green Bay Packers (Week 18).

The Bears visit the Lions for an NFC North divisional tilt in Week 11. They’re 0-2 in NFC North matchups, and 1-4 on the road this season.

The Bears are currently a +7.5 road underdog at most sportsbooks, with the exception of South Point Casino in Las Vegas, where they’re +8.

The Lions have the best betting record in the NFL this season at 7-2 against the point spread (ATS). Meanwhile, the Bears are 3-5-2 ATS. With Fields as a starter this season, the Bears are 1-5 ATS. With Bagent under center, the Bears were 2-2 ATS.

The Lions (7-2) are -1100 odds to win the NFC North. The first-place Lions are the second-largest divisional favorite heading into the second half of the season. The Kansas City Chiefs (7-2) are the biggest divisional favorite at -1800 odds to win the AFC West.

The Vikings (6-4) are +700 odds to win the NFC North, but they have a glimmer of hope after securing quarterback Josh Dobbs in a trade to replace an injured Kirk Cousins. The Packers (3-6) at +300 and the Bears, at +10000, are long shots to win the division.