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Bears HC Matt Eberflus Reveals Message to Justin Fields Before Trade

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Justin Fields Steelers

A recent article from Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated revealed the inner details of the moments before the Chicago Bears traded Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers on March 16, which included head coach Matt Eberflus’ departing message to him.

“We thanked him for his leadership, for the work ethic and just the man that he is, how he’s always been a wonderful guy,” Eberflus said. “I just told him, ‘Hey, I really enjoyed our relationship together the last couple years.’ I said, “That certainly doesn’t end here.’ The relationship that he and I built over the first couple years is special and no one can ever take that away from us.”

Fields had two head coaches and three different offensive coordinators in his three years in the Windy City. That’s an incredibly tough environment for a young quarterback to develop and grow in. And apparently, after Bears general manager Ryan Poles stated that he wanted to do right by Fields, they passed on a better offer to get him to the Steelers.

“Bears general manager Ryan Poles ultimately followed through on a combine pledge to ‘do right by Justin,’ dealing Fields to Pittsburgh over at least one better offer from a team with an established quarterback starter, a Bears team source said,” Pryor wrote.

Jason Goff of NBC Sports Chicago thinks Fields wasn’t perfect in the situation, but he was dealt an extremely bad hand.

“He was part of the problem. I think Justin Fields got caught up in the worst wasteland you can have to develop a quarterback,” Goff said on Bomani Jones’ podcast The Right Time with Bomani Jones. “Matt Nagy’s on his way out, he wants to play Andy Dalton. He throws him in his first game and says, ‘Here play football.’ And then he gets sacked nine times by Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney and that Cleveland Browns defense. That’s his introduction to it.

“Second year, (general manager) Ryan Poles comes in, ‘Hey, I got to tear this down, I want to build a different way.’ The youngest roster by far in the league. He’s throwing to special teamers. But also, he’s doing things that I didn’t expect him to do, like take off and run as often as he did. Is it all on Justin Fields? A sizeable portion of it is. But, I’m not one of these people that think that this wasn’t one of the worst situations you could drop quarterback in.”

Fields took a small step forward in 2023, his third year as Chicago’s starting quarterback. The Ohio State alum threw 370 times, completing 227 for 2,562 yards and 16 touchdowns. He threw nine interceptions and maintained an 86.3 passer rating and a 5.29 adjusted net yards per attempt.

In 2022, he was 192 of 318 for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, an 85.2 quarterback rating and 4.63 adjusted net yards per attempt.

Since 2022, Fields has the most rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,800 yards and 6.3 yards per carry. Both figures are higher than Lamar Jackson’s.

Mike Tomlin has repeatedly said this offseason that Russell Wilson is in pole position to be the Steelers’ starting quarterback in 2024, but there will be a fair training camp battle for Justin Fields.