After a poor game versus the Bengals, Justin Fields gets the start versus the Cleveland Browns, so does that mean the Browns defense will have an easy time of it?
The Cleveland Browns had all they could handle with third-string quarterback Davis Mills of the Texans in Week 2, so how will they fare with second-string Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears?
Fields got his first significant game exposure in Week 2 versus the Bengals and looked totally lost, but Browns fans should not expect that his sub-par performance will carry over into Week 3 versus a Browns defense that has still not jelled and which looked equally lost last week.
Fields, of course, was The Ohio State University star quarterback in 2019 and 2020, after transferring from Georgia. With the Buckeyes, Fields finished third and seventh in the Heisman voting in his two years there, and was drafted 11th overall by the Chicago Bears.
This offseason they signed Andy Dalton, the long-time Cincinnati Bengals star and a three-time Pro Bowler. Most people in the Nati have bought off on the notion that everything bad there was in fact the fault of either coach Marvin Lewis or Dalton, so they basically were glad to get rid of Dalton and replace him with Joe Burrow.
This is faulty reasoning. The quarterback gets too much credit when the team wins, and too much blame when the team wins. No quarterback goes to the Pro Bowl three times if he stinks. The sub-narrative is that Dalton’s achievements were all due to superstar receiver A.J. Green, but that is an oversimplification. Not all teams that have one great receiver send their quarterback to the Pro Bowl. No, the Bengals had quite a number of long-term problems, beginning with ownership.
Ever since he was drafted, the Bears fans have clamored for the young, dynamic Fields instead of boring old Dalton, the 33-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler. Fields got his shot in week two versus the Bengals when Dalton suffered a knee injury. Up to that point, Dalton had been his usual boring self, handing the Bears a 7-0 lead by short passes and not getting intercepted. He was only 9 for 11 passing, a completion percentage of 81.8%, but only 56 yards. Bo-ring!
Fields provided excitement by going only 6 for 13 for 60 yards, a 46.2% completion percentage, with an interception and two sacks. He tried to run the ball 10 times for 31 yards, or 3.10 yards per carry. In short, it was an exciting performance, but not in a good way.
Fortunately for Fields and the Bears, the Bengals’ Joe Burrow was even more exciting, getting sacked five times, and being intercepted on three consecutive passes at one point. That was enough to result in a 20-17 win, or rather, non-loss for the Bears.
Can the Browns count on this poor level of quarterback play this Sunday in FirstEnergy Stadium? If so, they may have a shot. They were getting carved to pieces by veteran Tyrod Taylor, but did much better resisting rookie Davis Mills.
However, there are a number of reasons why Fields may be better against the Browns than he was against the Bengals.