Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields wanted to return to Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, coach Matt Eberflus said.
But Fields couldn’t grip the football because of the right hand injury he suffered during a third-quarter sack and was sidelined for the rest of the 19-13 Bears loss.
Whether Fields will miss more time is now the major question. The X-rays on Fields’ hand were negative for any fracture, but the Bears are awaiting the results of an MRI. Fox Sports and NFL Network reported Fields dislocated his thumb.
“We’ll know more information tomorrow,” Eberflus said.
In a 1-5 season that has become so much about determining whether Fields is the Bears’ quarterback of the future, those test results are perhaps more crucial than the final result on the field Sunday. Eberflus said Fields’ demeanor after the game was “great.”
“He goes, ‘Coach, we’ll see where it is tomorrow,’” Eberflus said. “He was positive, and he was upbeat.”
Fields was trying to get rid of the ball as Vikings outside linebacker Danielle Hunter sacked him from behind with 10 minutes, 43 seconds to play in the third quarter. Fields’ hand was outstretched as he tried to toss the ball, and it hit the ground before his body did.
Fields held his hand and grimaced as he jogged to the sideline and sat on the bench briefly. He headed first to the medical tent and then the locker room. The Bears eventually ruled Fields out of the game, turning to undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent to take his first NFL snaps.
“It sucks to have a guy like that and not be able to have him on the field,” running back D’Onta Foreman said of Fields. “But this locker room has a lot of trust in Tyson and what he brings to the table. We’ve seen him work each and every day in practice and the things he’s been able to do. It definitely sucks but we have a lot of confidence in (Bagent). … His poise and his calmness, the way he commands himself in the huddle, just getting everybody on the right page.”
Before Fields was injured, he and the Bears offense did little to build momentum from their strong performance against the Washington Commanders in Week 5.
Fields completed 6 of 10 passes for 58 yards, no touchdowns, an interception and a 36.7 passer rating. He was sacked four times. The Bears had minus-3 passing yards following their first three drives before Fields connected with Darnell Mooney for a 39-yard pass. The Bears had a chance to take the lead late in the second quarter, but Hunter got in Fields’ face on a pass, and Jordan Hicks intercepted him.
Wide receiver DJ Moore, who had 230 receiving yards against the Commanders, was targeted twice in the first half, with one 7-yard catch. Moore said at one point the Vikings had three players on him.
“All the different looks, all the pressures and everything that was coming at us,” Moore said. “It’s hard when you go out there and think they’re going to do one thing and they do a whole multitude of things that they either put in or just had something to beat our play call with.”
The inconsistency of the passing offense behind Fields through six games has left major questions for the Bears about whether they are going to stick with him beyond 2023, especially as they and the Carolina Panthers, whose 2024 first-round draft pick the Bears own, drop deeper into the NFL basement — with higher draft picks in sight.
Fields can’t convince them one way or the other if he’s out for any extended time with a hand injury.
Bagent’s turn as the Bears leader didn’t exactly unfold as a fairy tale for the quarterback from Division II Shepherd University who played his way into the Bears backup role through preseason and practice performances.
Bagent, who said he got a “handful” of snaps with the first-team offense in practice last week, completed 10 of 14 passes for 83 yards and an interception and also had a lost fumble and a touchdown run.
He fumbled on a strip-sack by Vikings safety Josh Metellus on his third NFL snap. Hicks recovered the ball and turned it into a 42-yard touchdown and a 19-6 Vikings lead.
“A little bit of miscommunication,” Bagent said. “But at the end of the day, I’ve got to keep two hands on the ball. I’ve got to protect the ball.”
Bagent recovered to lead the Bears to a touchdown three drives later, connecting with Moore on 18- and 24-yard passes and scoring on a 1-yard run. He then got the Bears to the Vikings’ 35-yard line on their next drive with a chance to win it, but he underthrew Moore on a pass that Byron Murphy Jr. intercepted.
Bagent spoke of mixed emotions after the game — but said primarily he was thinking about not getting the win.
“More than anything, just wanting a couple of those plays (back),” Bagent said. “Obviously I would have liked a different outcome in the game. I think after you process and think about that, I’m just extremely grateful for the life I’ve been blessed with.”
If Fields can’t return this week for next Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Soldier Field, Bears players said they expect Bagent to be a poised and confident leader.
“He’s got a lot of self confidence,” tight end Cole Kmet said. “He has conviction in what he does and what he says, and if he has to take over here for a bit, we’re going to rally around him and make this the best situation possible for him.”