Justin Fields is starting his career with a 1-1 record. He will now head into Las Vegas to play the Raiders. He has played one of the most formidable defensive front-seven in the league and the Lions through his first two starts. The rookie was hung out to dry against the Browns after Andy Dalton was injured in Week Two. After having to deal with Myles Garrett and company, he played the Lions at home. Against the Lions, he had time to breathe and showed the NFL a glimpse of what he is capable of. This week he will look to further prove his first-round status.
Heading into Vegas Fields has 347 passing yards, two interceptions, and forty-eight percent completion. In other situations, one may think that is a horrible stat-line, and he should sit behind Dalton the rest of the season. However, he didn’t have much chance against the Browns and came in late for Dalton against the Bengals. So he played well in a full start and against a defense that doesn’t feature a top-five edge in the league. To be exact, he threw for 209 yards, with 64.71% completion and an interception.
Take Advantage Of The Injuries
This week’s challenge for Fields will be taking advantage of an injured secondary. The Raiders are going into Sunday, missing a starting corner along with his backup. Fields can expect to play against corners Casey Hayward, Amik Robertson, and Nate Hobbs. Against this secondary, Fields will have at least one mismatch to target.
Of the three corners mentioned above only, Hayward has starting experience. Slot corner Nate Hobbs is a rookie, and Amik Robertson has seen the field after an injury. On top of the inexperience from this secondary, there is a height advantage for the Bears. The tallest corner Fields will see this week is Nate Hobbs, who stands at 6 feet tall. Considering he plays slot, the likelihood of him playing against Allen Robinson is low. At least for a majority of the game. That honor will likely go to Casey Hayward. If Robinson does get matched up against Amik Robertson (5’8), Fields has to give Robinson a look.
Other than Robinson, Fields can look to slot receiver Darnell Mooney. Mooney is one of the best route runners in the league and has shown it against the best. He is also coming off the best game of his career. On five receptions, Darnell had 125 yards.
The last mismatch Justin Fields can take advantage of is speed. Marquise Goodwin is one of the fastest receivers in the league and is always capable of taking the top off. The speedster doesn’t see the targets that Robinson or Mooney do, but speed kills, and he has it.
Keys to Win
This game is Justin Fields’ prime opportunity to secure the starting spot. Sure he has been announced the starter, but teams change their quarterback, especially when their quarterback is young. So what does Fields have to do to secure the spot?
Like I said before, he has to take advantage of the mismatches. Every passing down will have one Allen Robinson’s height, Mooney’s route running, and Goodwin’s speed. All of which will create a nightmare for the Raiders patched-up secondary.
The next key is minimizing turnovers. Through four weeks, Fields has fumbled the ball once and thrown two interceptions. That can’t continue if he wants to get back in the win column.
The final key is staying disciplined. He needs to take what the Raiders defense gives him. If nothing is open, scramble. He is debatably the most mobile rookie quarterback, next to Trey Lance. Along with scrambling, when nothing is available, don’t force the ball. This coincides with keeping turnovers to a minimum, and it is too easy to want the deep ball. Suppose a dump-off is open; throw it. It’s better than taking a sack.