Thursday, May 19, 2022

Justin Fields to start for Bears: How first-round QBs of the last five years fared in their first starts

Justin Fields to start for Bears: How first-round QBs of the last five years fared in their first starts

History can tell us a bit about what to expect from Chicago this Sunday

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After sitting behind Andy Dalton for two weeks, Justin Fields will make his debut as the Bears‘ starting quarterback on Sunday. Coach Matt Nagy told reporters this week that Dalton will return as Chicago’s starter when healthy, but it’s unclear when he’ll be cleared to suit up following a knee injury … and if Nagy will change his tune once Fields showcases his own abilities. Bears fans are undoubtedly excited to get an extended look at the Windy City’s first-round pick, but Fields won’t necessarily have an easy road to victory in Week 3, with the Browns set to play host to his first career start.

Then there’s the track record of rookie QBs making their first starts. Here’s a look at how each first-round QB of the last five years, plus Fields’ first-round companions of 2021, fared in their first official action with QB1 duties:

2021 Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars) Week 1

28-51, 332 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs, 70.1 rating

L, 37-21

2021 Zach Wilson (Jets) Week 1

20-37, 258 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 82.9 rating

L, 19-14

2021 Mac Jones (Patriots) Week 1 29-39, 281 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 102.6 rating L, 17-16
2020 Joe Burrow (Bengals) Week 1 23-36, 193 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 66.1 rating L, 16-13
2020 Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins)

Week 7 12-22, 93 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 80.3 rating

W, 28-17
2020 Justin Herbert (Chargers) Week 2 22-33, 311 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 94.4 rating L, 23-20
2019 Kyler Murray (Cardinals) Week 1 29-54, 308 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 75.2 rating T, 27-27
2019 Daniel Jones (Giants) Week 3 23-36, 336 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 112.7 rating

W, 32-31
2019 Dwayne Haskins (Washington) Week 9 15-22, 144 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 86.2 rating

L, 24-9
2018 Baker Mayfield (Browns) Week 4

21-41, 295 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 70.7 rating L, 45-42
2018 Sam Darnold (Jets) Week 1 16-21, 198 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 116.8 rating W, 48-17
2018 Josh Allen (Bills)

Week 2 18-33, 245 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 63.3 rating L, 31-20
2018 Josh Rosen (Cardinals) Week 4 15-27, 180 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 88.5 rating L, 20-17
2018 Lamar Jackson (Ravens) Week 10 13-19, 150 yards, 1 INT, 70.1 rating, 119 rush yards W, 24-21
2017 Mitchell Trubisky (Bears) Week 5 12-25, 128 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 60.1 rating L, 20-17
2017 Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)

Week 17 22-35, 284 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 76.4 rating W, 27-24
2017 Deshaun Watson (Texans)

Week 2 15-24, 125 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 75.9 rating W, 13-9
2016 Jared Goff (Rams) Week 11 17-31, 134 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 65.8 rating L, 14-10
2016 Carson Wentz (Eagles) Week 1 22-37, 278 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 101.0 rating W, 29-10
2016 Paxton Lynch (Broncos) Week 5 23-35, 223 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 81.0 rating L, 23-16

Predictably, it’s a mixed bag. Some first-rounders came out with rousing success (see: Carson Wentz, Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones), and others looked slow out of the gate (see: Jared Goff, Dwayne Haskins). But the most important takeaway is probably the combined record of these first-time starters: 7-12-1. That’s not horrendous, considering most of these players were drafted early to rebuilding teams, but it’s obviously below-average, and it’s not like there are many routs among the seven wins; only Darnold, Wentz and Tagovailoa started in victories by more than one score.

In other words, even if Fields is a transcendent talent (and plenty of these one-time rookies now are), history suggests he alone won’t instantly halt the Bears’ struggles, at least in the win column. Chicago’s current supporting cast, and the Browns’ talent on the other side of Week 3’s game this Sunday, backs that up. That’s not to say Fields can’t/won’t be in for a thrilling debut — he sure flashed his athleticism in limited snaps relieving Dalton these past two weeks. But it is to caution against expectations of a decisive Bears upset during the rookie’s first real action under center.

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