There’s been a long-standing argument — dating back to last season — about whether or not Justin Fields holds onto the ball for too long.
Last year, due to an unfathomably poor offensive line and wide receiver core, it made sense Fields was forced to stand in the pocket for longer. Pundits, including myself, took to blame the rest of the cast and not the beloved QB1.
A new statistic on the topic, however, might open your eyes to Fields’ pocket awareness.
Justin Fields has taken 10 sacks this season, 9 of which have come after 4+ seconds.
Since 2021, he has taken 79 of those sacks (4+ sec), 16 more than any QB in the NFL.
(Yes, sacks are a QB stat.)
— Paul Hembekides (Hembo) (@PaulHembo) September 18, 2023
For reference, over Fields’ career, he’s taken 101 sacks. So, about 80% of his sacks are after four seconds of standing in the pocket. And, clearly, he’s leading all NFL quarterbacks in that department.
Of course, the same external factors could apply. The offensive line is still out of sync and Luke Getsy’s play designs are confusing, rudimentary and flat-out ineffective. We know all this from a slew of film breakdowns exposing anyone and everyone on the Bears’ offense.
On the other hand, it’s well-known some of Getsy’s concepts, and the wide receivers alone, have given Fields plenty of open opportunities to throw the ball. There’s no mistaking that. Fields has had time, evidenced by the above statistic, and open receivers.
That’s the most you can ask for as an NFL quarterback. Time and open receivers. You do the rest.
It’s becoming more clear that Fields doesn’t yet have the ability to anticipate routes and deliver the ball effectively to his receivers. The film tells the whole story.
And this statistic, in addition to the film, tells an even more frightening, yet well-detailed story about Fields.