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Column: Is this year make or break for Justin Fields?

Now with an NFL season under his belt and some draft help, more expectations are placed on Justin Fields.

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Justin Fields has a lot of pressure on him following his rookie season — perhaps more than any of the other year two quarterbacks. After maneuvering a season full of ups and downs, Fields is looking to solidify himself as a great QB in the NFL.

I believe that Fields has the highest expectations this season out of the four other QBs in his draft class. Trevor Lawrence will be given a break because of the crapshow of a rookie season he had to deal with on the Jags (oh, Urban). Trey Lance may not even be the starter for the 49ers. Mac Jones had a pretty solid season to build upon with good weapons around him. The Jets’ Zach Wilson also has a good amount of pressure on him, but he’s a Jet, so expectations can’t be set too high.

Unfortunately, the former Buckeye was thrown into the fire to begin his NFL career. The original plan was for him to sit behind veteran Andy Dalton for a few weeks to learn from him and have a smoother adjustment to the pros. However, that plan went up in flames in Week 2 when Dalton suffered a knee injury.

The new Bears starting QB had a rocky first couple of weeks before finding his stride. While Fields struggled to get rid of the ball quickly and not fumble (typical rookie mistakes), he did show flashes of greatness which Buckeye fans got to witness during his time at Ohio State, such as this 7-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that resulted in a 16-yard touchdown pass to take the lead against the Steelers with less than two minutes left in the game.

Everyone knows the potential Fields has. The question is, will we get to see it this season? My answer is yes. With the firing of head coach Matt Nagy and the hiring of Matt Eberflus, combined with new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, I think these coaches give Fields a chance to succeed.

Fields is the starting quarterback for the upcoming season, unlike last season when he was competing against Dalton for the starting job, which he ultimately lost. Now that it is for sure, the coaches can focus on building a system around him. Getsy comes from a fantastic Green Bay Packers offense, and is looking to transform the Bears.

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With a total revamp on the coaching staff, in addition to bringing in new players through the draft and free agency, the Bears have been doing their best to support Fields. Losing their main wide receiver in Allen Robinson definitely hurts, but WR2 Darnell Mooney, who finished with 1,055 yards receiving and four touchdowns last season, will have to step up and fill Robinson’s shoes.

The Bears signed Byron Pringle, formerly with the Chiefs, who caught 70% of his targets from Patrick Mahomes. I think Pringle, combined with third-round pick Velus Jones Jr., both speedy guys, will be useful weapons for Fields.

As for the offensive line, which needed much help, the Bears drafted four offensive lineman to hopefully do a better job of protecting their franchise quarterback, who was sacked 36 times last season. While it is still to be seen if these picks will pan out this season, at least Chicago is making an effort at improving one of its biggest weaknesses.

It is looking like the Bears have put Fields in a solid position to succeed this season. Additionally, the culture and atmosphere on the team seems to have improved as well, based on quotes from various players, including Fields. That being said, could this be his defining season?

I’m going to have to lean towards yes. With an entire offseason focused on his development, with new coaches and teammates designed to help him, I can’t help but believe that this year is his opportunity to take a big step forward. I think that this is an extremely important season for Fields, but I also think that he is going to shine.