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Gauging Justin Fields' First Start

Rookie quarterbacks making their first starts in the NFL throw an interception and a touchdown pass and get sacked a few times. Many fumble. And most lose.

Bears fans have received only a small glimpse of Justin Fields to date.

Fields has played but not as the quarterback who took all the practice snaps during the week. So he wasn't the focal points of the team's game plan.

He had been running the scout team during the week and only got involved practicing the few plays the team had planned for him in the game.

It's all different now. Because of Andy Dalton's knee injury the rookie gets a shot before Matt Nagy would have liked, but not before Fields or Bears fans would have liked.

The last time the Bears started a rookie quarterback was week 5 of the 2017 season under coach John Fox, and Mitchell Trubisky lost to the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field, 20-17. He went 12 of 25 for 128 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a sack and a lost fumble.

Trubisky's experience was nothing out of the ordinary for Bears rookie quarterbacks, or for most quarterbacks who get starts as rookies.

In the last 50 years, or A.D. (after Douglass, as in Bobby), Bears rookie quarterback starters own a 5-9 record in their first start. The last win by a rookie quarterback making his first start was Craig Krenzel's 23-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Halloween of 2004, aided greatly by three Paul Edinger field goals and a Nathan Vasher 71-yard touchdown on an interception return.

In the last five years, there have been 30 rookies who started games in their first NFL season and their record isn't much different than all of those Bears rookie starters over the last 50 years.

Rookie quarterbacks making their first start have a record of 8-21-1.

Matt Nagy likes saying there are so many variables involved in comparing rookie quarterbacks and their performances, and he's right. It's difficult to draw conclusions about what Fields could expect based on starts by others.

For instance, many of the rookies starting for the first time were with poor teams because that's usually the teams who are desperate enough to start a rookie. See Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, for instance.

Here's what to expect, sort of:

Fields will throw one touchdown pass

Of the 30 quarterbacks, 19 threw a touchdown pass. Seven of them threw more than one touchdown pass.

The high in the last five years was Trevor Lawrence's three TD passes.

Fields will throw an interception

Of the 30, 18 threw interceptions. Six threw more than one interception.

And then there was Nathan Peterman, who threw five interceptions in his first pro start as a rookie.

Fields will get sacked more than once

But don't worry, he shouldn't get sacked more than Luke Falk of the Jets. In his first pro start as a rookie, he got sacked nine times.

Fields will post a poor passer rating

But the good news is it will be better than he had last week when he replaced Andy Dalton. It was 27.1 then.

The average passer rating for the first start by 30 rookie quarterbacks in the last five years is 71.52

They had 576 completions in 1,021 attempts for 6,235 yards with 27 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.

Fields will fumble

More than half of them did, but he already showed last week he's pretty quick to get back himself.

Justin Fields and the Bears will lose

The 8-21-1 record in five years of starters includes a 4-10 record by rookies in their first starts on the road and 4-11-1 in their first starts at home.

It's just tough, but facing the crowd noise in Cleveland sure won't help, particularly when Fields received two penalties last week for false starts and he was at home.

The trend is obviously to lose the game this year. All four rookie quarterbacks this year who made their first starts—Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones and Davis Mills—lost.

Beating the average

Fields might be worse than those trends and numbers. Or he might perform better. But none of it will matter because he'll have another start at some point, possibly next week against Detroit or whenever the Bears deem it his time to take over for good.

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