Justin Fields Has Gone From Bears Franchise QB Hopeful To Potential Kickoff Return Man For The Steelers

Justin steelers

Life is coming at Justin Fields fast. As if getting shipped out of Chicago for little more than a bag of peanuts wasn’t a big enough hit to the self-esteem, he’s about a +2000 underdog to unseat Russell Wilson as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback. Fields is in line to play second fiddle to a quarterback who’s being paid the most money in NFL history not to play for his previous team.

Insert the “Squidward watching from a window as SpongeBob and Patrick have fun” meme when it comes to Fields, wondering from afar what could’ve been in the Windy City as Ryan Poles replaces him with Caleb Williams and loads up the reigning No. 1 overall pick’s supporting cast.

To use Fields’ own words, he was playing “robotic” last season. He has a lot of trouble seeing the field from the pocket and moving off a read if the throw isn’t there. Doesn’t throw with anticipation hardly ever. You can’t win as a QB in the NFL with those qualities. What Fields does have in spades is elite athleticism. Even by NFL standards, Fields is a freak among freaks, and apparently the Steelers are eager to capitalize on those unique talents in light of the new kickoff rules.

Shout out to My Sports Update Ari for the explainer on the new kickoff situation, too:

Justin Fields fans, don’t freak out, but I would actually love to see the Steelers give him a package of plays at either running back or wide receiver. Hear me out. When Fields gets downhill, he runs with incredible power and acceleration. He’s elusive as hell in the open field. Once he gets to the second level of the defense, it’s a potential house call every time. That type of explosiveness could be exploited not only on kickoffs, but as a ball-carrier or pass-catcher.

If you’re this good with the rock in your hands as a runner, why bother with the whole complicated passing thing?

For now, I guess I’ll have to accept that a “Fields package” or “JFF 2.0 package” is a pipe dream. Then again, if the Steelers do deploy Fields as a returner and he starts having major success — not at all out of the realm of possibility — it’d behoove them to give him some run as a skill player on offense. Why not? It’s not like Pittsburgh is going to do a two-QB platoon of Wilson and Fields. The only downside is there’s no capable backup behind Fields at QB, but I’m talking about occasional packages of plays, not a full-blown role. At least for 2024.

Fascinating that the Steelers are kicking around this idea in the first place. Whatever they decide to do, their QB situation with Wilson and Fields limits their ceiling, no matter how much of a potential X-factor Fields could be on special teams. They’ll finish at least 9-8, because that’s what Mike Tomlin does, and getting bounced on Wild Card Weekend is their best-case scenario. I like Justin Fields as a football player and hope he can find his stride. Not sure he can get it done as a pocket passer well enough to ever be a high-end starter at quarterback, though.

If you’ll remember back to several years ago, another uber-athletic ex-Ohio State QB, Terrelle Pryor, converted to receiver and had over 1,000 yards in 2016 for a hapless Browns team. That was Pryor’s age-27 season. Fields only turned 25 in March. Good on him if he wants to keep giving this quarterback thing a shot. Just saying, Fields would be a load to handle at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds as a boundary receiver, or he could be a legit starting-caliber running back.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock