In his second NFL season, Bears quarterback Justin Fields emerged as one of the NFL's most electrifying players with his dual-threat ability.
Fields put together a historic season on several accounts, rushing for 1,143 yards – the second most by a quarterback in NFL history behind the Ravens' Lamar Jackson, who rushed for 1,206 yards in 2019. Fields set the single game record for rushing yards by an quarterback with 178 Nov. 6 against the Dolphins; his cleats from the game are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Fields' 1,143 rushing yards also set a new franchise record for must rushing yards in a season by a Bears quarterback, passing Bobby Douglass who rushed for 968 yards in 1972. He also become the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era with a rushing TD in six straight games and the first quarterback to rush for at least 70 yards in five consecutive games since at least 1950.
Starting 15 games this season – missing two with injuries – Fields also grew as a passer in 2022, completing 192 of 318 pass attempts for 2,242 yards while throwing 17 touchdowns. As the team's leading rusher, Fields had 160 carries and scored eight touchdowns.
Due to his all-around improvement as a quarterback and his leadership, ChicagoBears.com has selected Fields the Bears' Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year for 2022.
The Ohio State product's success as a runner fueled the league's top rushing attack this season, which totaled 2,975 rushing yards and surpassed the 1984 Bears for the franchise's single-season rushing record.
While Fields was the first to say he needs to continue improving heading into 2023, particularly as a passer, he knows he "grew over the year, got better." General manager Ryan Poles told reporters Jan. 10 in his end-of-season press conference he's "excited for the direction [Fields] is going."
"I thought Justin did a good job," Poles said. "I thought we changed a lot, we adapted, we tried to put him in a position to be successful. He showed the ability to be a playmaker, be impactful. He can change games quickly. Does he have room to grow? He does. He has to get better as a passer, and I'm excited to see him take those steps as we move forward."
Check out the best photos of the 2022 season—taken by Bears photographers—featuring players on the offensive side of the ball.
After playing in 12 games as a rookie, Fields was tasked with learning new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy's scheme last offseason and building relationships with new receivers. While it took a few weeks for the Bears' offense to find a rhythm, the unit hit its stride starting in Week 7, scoring 24 points or more in five straight games, including 30 or more points in three of those contests.
Fields said that stretch of games gave him confidence in the offense's potential and optimism as he heads into Year 2 with Getsy and his scheme. For Getsy, seeing Fields take in each experience, whether it was positive or negative, and find ways to learn from both has the coordinator excited about next season.
"As we go into next year, now he's had this experience, he's had his opportunities to get more comfortable with the communication of the system, hopefully get more comfortable with the people around him," Getsy said. "All that stuff, any time you can get that cohesiveness of the unit together, and knowing what the culture looks like and he's the leader of that culture, I think all that stuff is promising stuff."
While Fields undeniably shined on the field this season, he also evolved as a leader, earning the respect of the locker room, coaches and staff. Getsy said one of the most important parts of Fields' growth in his second NFL season was "becoming the leader of the football team and being a great pro and consistent every day."
Fields noticed that change as well, telling reporters Jan. 9 he feels he was able to take ownership of the locker room this season and is excited to keep improving his connections with his teammates.
"The guys in here, they know how hard I work," Fields said. "They know what I want to accomplish and just my mindset overall. Really just trying to get guys on the same page, that mindset, that culture to where no matter what we go through nothing can phase us. Having that swagger, having that confidence going into every game like they have to play us, they have to beat us, so just have that mindset going into every game, we'll be fine."