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25th Oct 2022

Bill Belichick makes big quarterback call as Justin Fields win it for Chicago Bears


“We’re encouraged with the progress that is there.”

It has not always been easy, or pretty, for Justin Fields but the young Chicago Bears quarterback showed really encouraging signs that he could swim with the NFL sharks, on Monday Night Football.

The Bears QB, who was enduring a three-game losing streak with his team, went into the game in 32nd place for pass completion percentage. However, he lit up the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The 23-year-old threw one touchdown pass and ran for another score. Justin Fields finished with 179 passing yards and 82 running yards

It was an altogether tougher night for Patriots QB, Mac Jones. Returning from a spell on the sidelines, Jones was intercepted and had a couple of three-and-outs before Bill Belichick replaced him with back-up quarterback, Bailey Zappe early in the second quarter. Belichick refused to dive too deep into his reasons for benching Jones, but it will be interesting to see who starts the Patriots’ Sunday outing against the New York Jets.

We got a full rundown on the rest of the Week 7 NFL action from David McDonnell of Smashmouting Football.

A brilliant NFL season threw up a few surprises this weekend, and once again it was the turn of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, which leaves both future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks with losing records after seven weeks.

To put this in perspective, the last time Brady was in this predicament was in 2002 when many of the young stars in the NFL were still toddling around in nappies.

And after giving the benefit of the doubt to both teams over the last few weeks, now is the time for the Packers and Bucs faithful to panic as it was the manner of their defeats on the road against the Commanders and Panthers that will be of most concern to their respective fan bases.

Packers v Commanders 

Rodgers in particular has looked a ball of frustration on the field as he continues to struggle to connect with all of his new teammates on offence. Against the Commanders he did not convert one third or fourth down during the entire game and by the end of the third quarter, his longest drive was only 40 yards.

Green Bay had an early 14-3 second quarter lead when linebacker De’Vondre Campbell intercepted a throw by Taylor Heineke.

This score more than anything seemed to kick the Washington attack into life and they scored the next 20 points unanswered. Taylor Heineke, on his first start this season, found Antonio Gibson at the back of the endzone and his favourite target from last season Terry McLaurin in the right corner to take a third quarter lead.

Trailing by nine, Green Bay rallied and closed the gap to two points when Rodgers went to Aaron Jones with a heads up play and the running back did well to find the endzone. It looked set up for a Packers comeback but Washington weren’t finished and when the pressure was greatest Heineke routinely found McLaurin on third down to close out the game.

McLaurin was immense throughout and gave All-Pro corner Jaire Alexander a torrid afternoon. Heineke was an improvement on anything Carson Wentz has shown in recent weeks and the Washington defence was outstanding. With the return of Chase Young on the immediate horizon, Ron Rivera has a team that will surprise a few more teams visiting the capital before the season is out.

Afterwards Rodgers spun the story to the media that the loss “might be the best thing for us” as they now look down the barrel of facing a rested Buffalo Bills, coming off their bye week on prime time next Sunday.

Bucs v Panthers

Another of the pre-season favourites in the NFC, Tampa Bay have now lost four of their last five matches.

On offence against Carolina, the Bucs averaged only three yards per carry and Brady struggled to connect with his receiving corps throwing multiple errant passes but even when he was accurate, his receivers couldn’t connect with the play. Their afternoon was best summed up when Mike Evans dropped a clanger, when he could have strolled in for an easy first quarter touchdown.

The much vaunted Bucs defence were just as culpable as they couldn’t stop a Panthers offence a week after they traded their best player Christian McCaffery to the 49ers and their second best receiver Robbie Anderson to the Cardinals.

Quarterback PJ Walker,  who started the season as third-string quarterback, even before the arrival of Baker Mayfield, led the way throwing for two touchdowns, the best of which was a first half dart to DJ Moore at the back of the endzone.

Its been a hell of a week for interim coach Steve Wilks, who has Carolina one win from the top of the NFC West after starting the season 1-5.

*For more on Justin Fields, Seattle Seahawks gaining momentum, Patrick Mahomes digging out the 49ers, the Dolphins grinding it out against the Steelers, and the rest of Week 7, check out Smashmouting Football, and give them a follow on Twitter.