Skip to main content
Publish date:

Win Over Packers Can Provide an Escalator

What beating the Green Bay Packers could mean for Justin Fields, no matter how unlikely in a series dominated by Aaron Rodgers.

Each week in the Justin Fields maturation process a different lesson has presented itself.

With the Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, it's another challenge and more information to assimilate for the rookie quarterback.

This time it is facing overwhelming odds at home against a division rival, their biggest.

Trying to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers with the team healthy and operating at peak efficiency has been difficult enough for the Bears over the years. Winning in the rivalry with their rookie quarterback, with their top two running backs sidelined, with a starting right tackle out and with uncertainty over the health of key players like Akiem Hicks and Allen Robinson presents an entirely different level of difficulty.

In the event of a loss, it can merely be a status check on the team and Fields. After all, no one could realistically anticipate an injury riddled team with half an offensewith the passing aspect still developingto beat a team with dominance in this series.

"Just a hard-nosed offense," is the way Fields describes this Bears attack. "An offense that can just line up and run the ball, and just get things going, and just try to do a lot of the same stuff, and kind of just line up and play fast."

Nowhere in there did he say a sophisticated, modern passing attack, and without that it will be very difficult to compete with Rodgers.

It's a no-lose situation for the Bears. A loss can be shrugged off as Fields developing. 

However, with any manner of win could come the type of colossal confidence boost a team needs to go on a tear, or what a rookie quarterback needs to greatly elevate his game.

To date, Fields' lessons learned included:

  • What it meant to be on the field for a few plays in the opener against the Rams
  • How to run plays in succession and manage a lead when brought in to face the Cincinnati Bengals during a game after Andy Dalton's knee injury.
  • Going on the road with a poor game plan and little working against a strong opponent in his first start at Cleveland.
  • How to play at home in a start against a Lions team the Bears should beat.
  • How to go on the road and compete against a beatable team with a winning record, the Las Vegas Raiders.

Read More

"I'm just trying to get better every day," Fields said. "I don't know where I'm at (developing). I'm not worried about where I'm at. I'm just trying to improve every day."

As he should. It's up to coaches to worry about development phases.

The challenge for Fields this week is probably an ultimate test, passed maybe only by a game at Lambeau Field.

The Green Bay Packers have already won nine of their last 10 over the Bears. They don't care whether it's in Chicago or Green Bay, Rodgers and his team have been able to control what is an ancient and now one-sided rivalry.

So anything Fields can do in the way of making this a close game would be viewed as incredible progress. There are no moral victories in the NFL, but there is learning and applying it in future matchups. This is how the Bears must approach Sunday's game as they try to make the difficult step and overtake Green Bay for the NFC North lead.

A win would be even bigger because the Bears are entering the stretch of their schedule posing the greatest challenge.

Facing Green Bay, traveling then to play Tom Brady and Tampa Bay, then a game at home with San Francisco and finally games at Pittsburgh and at home with Baltimore comprise the make-or-break aspect of this season. 

Last year they hit this point after six games. This year it starts with the sixth game.

Last year they failed miserably and somehow after great changeNagy giving up play callingthey miraculously recovered to salvage a playoff berth.

With a rookie quarterback learning on a weekly, even daily basis at practice, the ability to recover from something like last year's six-game losing streak would seem unlikely.

"We had what we're going through and naming Justin the starting quarterback is one part of it," Nagy said. "Then you had the defense going through trying to figure outit's early in the year—so you're trying to figure out as a team who are you. So you do all that, you're able to win a few games complementary in three phases. It starts to feel a lot better.

"And now, but now, what you need to do is now you’ve got to make sure, OK, two good wins, right? Now you've got to make sure that you don't get complacent and the focus now is being able to go back out there and do it again."

There could never be complacency for the Bears after what they've gone through against the Packers, or shouldn't anyway.

If the education of Fields intersects with the team's ability to be competitive and win, and it happens this week above all others, then they truly have reached a point where anything becomes possible this season.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven