The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 5-1 so far in 2021 and currently hold a 1.5 game lead in the NFC South. They return to action this Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium against the 3-3 Chicago Bears. The Buccaneers have had a few extra days to mend and look to stay unbeaten at home as they tangle with the 11th overall pick in the 2021 Draft, quarterback Justin Fields.
The Bucs held off the Philadelphia Eagles 28-22 last Thursday and have won 3 straight. Interestingly enough, they will be facing a team that has a quarterback with a similar skill set as their past two opponents. Fields, who will be making his 5th start for Chicago, could be considered a clone of but with a higher ceiling than Miami’s Jacoby Brissett and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts when it comes to overall potential.
Fields and the Bears lost a 24-14 home game on Sunday against their ancient rivals, the Green Bay Packers. He has split his first four starts after taking over for veteran Andy Dalton in Week 3. So far, he’s shown some flashes of brilliance and made some inevitable rookie mistakes.
Fields has only topped 200 yards passing once and has two touchdowns and three interceptions on the year. He does have the ability to escape the pocket, however, and has 102 yards and a rushing touchdown so far in his fledgling career. That’s something defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and crew will have to limit yardage wise as the Bears quarterback is dangerous out in space and can get first downs when necessary.
Fields does have some issues that can be exploited by the Bucs, though. He’s had some problems connecting with receivers, especially illustrated by several bad overthrows in the Packers game. He has a completion rating of a shade over 53 percent to begin his career.
The inefficiency is probably to be expected from a rookie and should definitely be taken advantage of by opponents. The Bucs secondary could be in line for several interceptions if Fields’ high throws persist.
The Tampa Bay Defensive line should be prepared to hit Fields a lot on Sunday as well. He’s been sacked 18 times this season, including at least once in each of his starts. Those include a 9 sack day at Cleveland and a 4 sack day last week.
Ultimately, Justin Fields may very well wind up having a great career, but Tampa Bay has to remind him and the Bears where they stand in the NFL hierarchy. Raymond James Stadium is no place for a rookie to have a coming out party when he plays for the opposition. Fields and the Bears have to forcefully learn that lesson this Sunday.