First & Long: Fields Out, Siemian In, Gordon and Brisker in Concussion Protocol, Vikings Close to Clinching NFC North
Justin Fields is officially out and head coach Matt Eberflus no longer holds the edge by withholding that information. Trevor Siemian will start against the Jets on Sunday afternoon. Everybody can now breathe a little easier knowing that the Bears erred to the side of caution with regard to their franchise quarterback.
Can the Bears win with Siemian leading the offense? Anything is possible, but Chicago is 3-8 with a healthy Fields, so a loss seems likely. It has been a full year since Siemian started a game. He was a member of the Saints when the Bills dropped New Orleans 31-6 on November 25, 2021. The Northwestern product was 17-of-29 for 163 yards, with one touchdown and one interception in the loss.
“I look forward to [possibly playing],” Siemien said on Friday. “There’s no excuse. There’s no asterisk on the win-loss total or stat sheet. It’s something I look forward to, it’s a challenge I accept. Like I said, if I get to play, I’ll be ready to go. That’s part of the deal with being a backup.”
If anything, Sunday’s game will also go a long way toward proving whether or not Siemian belongs with the Bears as a backup next season. Chicago won’t draft a quarterback in rounds one or two, but Anthony Richardson of Florida is a reasonable facsimile of Fields, and he’ll be available as a Day 3 pick.
The Bears will need a strong effort from their defense to have any shot at winning on Sunday. The Jets averaged 2.77 inches per play in the second half of last Sunday’s game, but they’ve benched starting quarterback Zach Wilson in favor of Mike White. The battle between Siemian and White isn’t quite the gate attraction as Fields vs. Wilson would have been. For what it’s worth, Fields is unbeaten this season against fellow second-year quarterbacks Trey Lance (49ers), Davis Mills (Texans), and Mac Jones (Patriots). His perfect record, therefore, remains intact.
Each of those wins came before the Bears traded Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith. Opponents are averaging 35.5 points per game against the Bears since the trade deadline. A loss tomorrow paired with a Panthers win at home against the Broncos would move the Bears into the No. 2 overall selection in next April’s draft. Expect Chicago to rebuild its defense at the top of the draft. Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama), Jalen Carter (Georgia), and Clemson defensive linemen Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee should all be available when GM Ryan Poles makes his first pick.
Bears News & Notes
- The Bears need to get to White, clean up special teams, and shore up the offensive line in order to beat the Jets.
- With backup quarterbacks playing for both sides, it’s not unreasonable to expect a low-scoring game. Our own Sean Holland predicts a 16-13 win by New York.
- The Bears flexed QB Nathan Peterman from the practice squad to backup Siemian. Linebacker DeMarquis Gates was also promoted to the 53-man roster, and Chicago waived defensive back Lamar Jackson in a corresponding move.
- Rookie defensive backs Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon are in concussion protocol and have been ruled out for Sunday’s tilt. DeAndre Houston-Carson will replace Brisker, and Kindle Vildor and Jaylon Jones will alternate snaps in place of Gordon.
- David Montgomery praised the leadership and toughness of Fields.
- Fields apologized to the defense for not winning the Falcons game. Eddie Jackson said it was the defense that let down its quarterback and team captain instead.
- Devin Hester has been named a Hall of Fame finalist for the second consecutive year. The election announcement will be made on the eve of this season’s Super Bowl.
- The latest mock draft at Tankathon has the Bears selecting Carter.
There’s a Flag…On the Field
Nothing to see here. Please move along.
McMahon, Tomczak, Harbaugh, Willis, Furrer, Kramer, Walsh, Krieg, Mirer, Stenstrom, Moreno, Matthews, McNown, Miller, Chandler, Burris, Stewart, Grossman, Quinn, Krenzel, Hutchinson, Orton, Griese, Cutler, Collins, Hanie, McCown, Campbell, Clausen, Hoyer, Barkley, Glennon … https://t.co/vZGdN2geXt
— StartKyleOrton (@startkyIeorton) November 27, 2022
- Because the Bears’ quarterback announcement came so late, the Jets were forced to prepare for Fields and Siemian. “Completely different game plan depending on who plays,” defensive end John Franklin-Myers told The NY Post. “At the end of the day, we gotta go out there and we gotta play our brand of football. Whoever plays has to get hit. We gotta be physical, we gotta play violent and we gotta play with effort regardless of who plays.”
- Siemian played for the Jets in 2019, starting one game that season. White is a free agent after this season and wouldn’t it be odd if he plays himself into a backup role with Chicago next year, replacing Siemian?
- The Jets will try to exploit two key mismatches on Sunday afternoon: EDGE Carl Lawson vs. rookie OT Braxton Jones, and White against Chicago’s linebackers, who are weak in pass coverage.
- A dethroned Wilson stood before his teammates Wednesday in a crowded meeting room and apologized for last Sunday’s news conference fumble — the one that made him a national poster boy for lack of accountability.
- The Vikings’ win over the Patriots on Thanksgiving put the Jets back into the thick of the AFC playoff race.
- Perhaps it’s a good thing for the Bears that Fields will be sitting out. The Jets have 17 sacks in their last three games. It’s going to be a long afternoon for Siemian though.
Siemian for six!
Trevor Siemian drops it right in the bucket to Dazz Newsome for the TD! 🎯 #DaBears
📺: #KCvsCHI on @NFLNetwork
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/3mvoWh7UD3 pic.twitter.com/QRDiATYgWp
— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2022
- Minnesota: The Vikings are 9-2, and a virtual lock to win the NFC North. Any combination of Vikings wins and Lions/Packers losses equaling two would secure Minnesota’s first division title since 2019 and just their third since 2010. The Bears have been officially eliminated.
- Green Bay: Rookie lineman Sean Rhyan has been suspended without pay for the rest of the regular NFL season for using PEDs.
- Detroit: The Lions could pursue bounceback quarterback Geno Smith of the Seahawks. Smith will be a free agent after this season. Lamar Jackson has also expressed an inclination to play for Detroit in 2023.
NFL News & Notes
The 2022-23 season is a little more than half over, but the Jim Harbaugh rumors have already started. Teams to watch include the Browns (they also tried to trade for Harbaugh in early 2014), Broncos, Texans, Chargers, and Cardinals.
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson of the Lions is also a hot name to follow in this year’s coaching carousel.
As many as six quarterbacks could be drafted in the first round according to Pro Football Focus.
The Cowboys and Giants set an NFL record on Thursday. Their Thanksgiving contest was the most-watched regular season game ever.
WR Parris Campbell of the Colts and EDGE Samson Ebukam of the 49ers are among several under-the-radar free agents worth keeping an eye on. Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, who has the coolest name in the NFL, is also listed.
Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth has established himself as one of the best tight ends in the game.
Jimmy Johnson has published his memoirs.
Eagles QB Jalen Hurts is exceeding almost everybody’s expectations this season. He’s also changing the way that pro scouts analyze young quarterbacks.
Greg Olsen warned Tom Brady not to become an NFL broadcaster. “I gotta tell you…this TV thing sucks.”
Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust
- Nick Chubb has the most 20+ yard runs this season with 10.
- The Dolphins lead the NFL with 158 plays of 10 or more yards
- The Lions are now 37-44-2 on Thanksgiving. They’ve hosted a home game on Turkey Day every year since 1934, except for seasons during WWII.
From the Podium
- “That’s just [Fields] being a man. He knew that he had made a mistake toward the end of the game that was kind of, you know, big. I feel him because I played quarterback, so I understand when you make a mistake that late in the game and then the other team ends up winning, he feels that it was on him. But it wasn’t on him. There were multiple things that went on throughout the game between offense, (special teams) and defense that we all had a part in causing us to lose. So I understand where he came from, and we backed him up. You know, we told him that wasn’t on him.” – Dominique Robinson
- “All of us look to Justin [Fields] and he always puts his cape on. He’s also an incredible leader. [Fields] listens to everybody, he’s a really humble guy and he just wants to win and ultimately make this organization and this team as good as [it] can be.” – Montgomery
Running Out the Clock
A second chance for Siemian.