I don’t want to go completely down the rabbit hole on this subject, but for whatever reason it seems like it’s the popular thing to downplay the talent and dedication that Justin Fields has when it comes to football. Lately, word out of both the NFL (via unnamed NFL executives) and certain media outlets have been piling on Justin Fields. From questioning the young quarterbacks work ethic to snap character judgements and everything in-between. Recently, ESPN NFL Analyst Dan Orlovsky caught heat for some comments that he shared on The Pat McAfee Show when asked about why Justin Fields was falling on draft boards around the league. Here’s what he said on the show:
Notice that he said that “these are not my opinions”. People may have missed that part. I understand that some may feel that he shouldn’t have shared those comments as he is “continuing to perpetuate the narrative of slandering a black quarterback” (I’m paraphrasing but stay with me), but these thoughts don’t stem from Orlovsky himself. I can’t fault Dan Orlovsky for doing his job. Should Orlovsky been smarter in vetting those statements and following up with thoughts of his own or digging deeper into these narratives? Of course. That’s just good journalism. I can only hope that Orlovsky learns not to make this mistake again but overall I won’t bury him for it like others have.
These thoughts are coming from the NFL. Those “that are decision makers” in the league. The guys that have some juice in their respective team’s front offices are the ones spilling this out into the media. No one is going to put their name on those statements either so there’s no reason to get butthurt about it because we know that’s not how these things go down.
Dan Orlovsky even went back to social media and added more clarity to response to the “firestorm” that those comments caused from Pat McAfee Show appearance:
I’ll be the first to say I don’t follow college football closely as other fantasy football writers but I will say this… Google is free. There’s plenty of ways to find out what the truth could be and what falsehoods are being planted out there. Sometimes you just have to be able to sift through the nonsense and see what it is for yourself. What I have found from my own research is this… Justin Fields is being slept on. I might even add “drastically” to that sentence.
One of the things that I have heard is that Justin Fields can’t get pass his first read on the field. He apparently has trouble processing information quickly. It’s either one read and then he’s gone. Contrary to that narrative, there were several examples of Justin Fields processing plays not only quickly but correctly.
Even ProFootball Focus jumped in with some stats, dispelling the “one-read” narrative on Justin Fields.
As mentioned before, Justin Fields work ethic and character were also brought up. NFL Media Analyst Bucky Brooks jumped all over this one.
And there was this nugget that popped up via Barstool OSU.
Now let’s close this out with a comparison. Zach Wilson has been talked about so much lately that he’s the perceived potential number 2 QB coming off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. Is he better than Justin Fields to have that spot on lock? I don’t know. By their college numbers, I would beg to differ. Based on their numbers, Justin Fields comes out on top in most categories on the surface.
Fields vs. Wilson (College Career):
Completion percentage: 68.4% to 67.6%
Passing Yards: 5,701 to 7,652
Yards per attempt: 9.2 to 9.1
Adjusted yards per attempt: 10.7 to 9.7
Touchdowns: 67 to 56
Interceptions: 9 to 15
Passer Rating: 179 to 163
Now I’m not saying Zach Wilson is bad. At the same time, what is it that he does better than Justin Fields that he should just be considered the number 2 QB in the draft? Both are mobile QBs who can make plays with their feet but Fields looks better in the pocket to me over Wilson. Fields is also faster, running a 4.44 40 time during his pro day.
I’m not sure why Justin Fields is getting so much shade but he won’t get it from me. Fields needs a good landing spot to further showcase his talents. I have a sneaky suspension that the San Francisco 49ers could be in his future with them moving up to 3rd overall after trading with the Miami Dolphins last week. Combine that with ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio’s report that the 49ers are looking for a 1st rounder for Jimmy Garoppolo and that could be one of the best landing spots for the rookie QB.
I can’t wait to see what this kid does when he hits the NFL.