If the NFL really wants to protect its stars, officials should start to pay closer attention to what’s going on with Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields.
It’s been a tumultuous season for NFL officials so far. Unfortunately, that trend continued in Sunday’s game between the Bears and the hosting Atlanta Falcons.
Refs when Justin Fields gets a late hit pic.twitter.com/mET7iO44wu— Barstool Chicago (@barstoolchicago) November 20, 2022
On the Bears’ final drive, Fields slid to the ground after picking up four yards. Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett launched himself into Fields’ helmet area as he was getting down.
In a league intent on protecting the quarterback, it's startling that a flag wasn't thrown here pic.twitter.com/BJ5obSi2w7— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) November 20, 2022
It’s a call we see veteran quarterbacks receive on a consistent basis. For whatever reason, Fields hasn’t been getting the same kind of treatment from officials.
People will say that the second-year quarterback hasn’t earned those calls yet, but that is a load of horse manure. Referees should be on high alert when it comes to quarterbacks suffering head injuries, especially after what happened to Tua Tagovailoa earlier in the season.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in your second season as a pro or your 22nd season, penalties don’t change based on the subject.
Sure, Fields is well put together and can take a big hit and bounce right back up, but that doesn’t mean an illegal play should go without penalization.
Every week Justin Fields is taking late hits and is getting no protection from these refs. Refs need to be held more accountable it’s getting beyond a joke now— Matt Newton (@mattnewts) November 20, 2022
Rookie safety Jaquan Brisker had his quarterback’s back after the game.
“He’s very tough,” Brisker said of Fields following the game. “Especially, the league, if that was a different quarterback, they would be throwing hella flags. A lot of flags. I feel like the league has to look at that. It’s crazy how many times he gets hit in the head every single game, but he still gets up.”
Brisker went on to say:
“If that was Tom Brady, Jared Goff, or anybody like that, they throwing flags immediately. Just as you seen today. They threw a flag to Mariota, and he tripped over himself. I feel like they got to respect Justin some more and look at him as a quarterback because there should be more flags. He’s getting targeted every single game and none of them are being thrown.”
Not only is the league jeopardizing Fields’ health, but the penalty would have put Chicago at the 45-yard line. The very next play, Fields tossed an interception to seal the team’s fate, but who knows what would have happened had the officials made the correct call.
It’s time the NFL adjusts the way it officiates Fields. Not that league officials should need any incentive to do the right thing, but this is a player they will likely be using to market the sport for the next decade.
Featured image via Brett Davis – USA TODAY Sports