The severity of Fields’ injury to his throwing hand and how long he may be sidelined is unknown. During his postgame news conference, coach Matt Eberflus said that X-rays on Fields’ hand were negative. The quarterback will undergo an MRI on Monday.
A Fox Sports report later Sunday noted that Fields dislocated his thumb, but he popped it back in and tried to finish the game. Ultimately, the report said, he was unable to grip the football.
Fields was sacked by Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter on Chicago’s first drive of the third quarter. Facing third-and-7 from Minnesota’s 48-yard line, Fields dropped back to pass and ran toward the visitors’ sideline while trying to escape pressure. Hunter sacked Fields from behind, and while the quarterback was falling to the ground, he tried to flip the ball in the direction of running back Darrynton Evans.
Fields landed awkwardly on his right arm as he broke his fall.
After a visit to the injury tent, Fields walked back to the locker room with a towel over his right hand. He was initially listed as questionable to return and ruled out shortly thereafter.
Eberflus said Fields wanted to come back into the game but could not grip the ball to throw it. The 25-year-old quarterback finished 6-of-10 passing for 58 yards and an interception against Minnesota’s aggressive blitz. He also rushed eight times for 46 yards.
Eberflus said he spoke briefly with Fields postgame.
“His demeanor is great,” Eberflus said. “He goes, ‘Coach, we’ll see where it is tomorrow.’ He was positive and he was upbeat.”
Fields was replaced by rookie Tyson Bagent, who holds the NCAA record for all-time touchdown passes (159) and is the Division II record-holder for all-time passing yards (17,034) and total touchdowns (171). He signed with Chicago as an undrafted free agent in May and beat out current Browns quarterback PJ Walker, who was with the Bears this offseason, for a spot on the initial 53-man roster during cutdown day.
The Shepherd University product was recently elevated to QB2 on the Bears’ depth chart over Nathan Peterman, who was Chicago’s emergency QB Sunday.
“We believe in Tyson,” Eberflus said. “We obviously had him at No. 2 for a reason and we feel strong about that.”
Bagent’s NFL regular-season debut was soured three plays in after taking over for Fields, when he was strip-sacked by Vikings safety Josh Metellus. Minnesota linebacker Jordan Hicks scooped up Bagent’s fumble and ran 46 yards down the home team sideline for a touchdown to give the Vikings a 19-6 lead.
“A little bit of miscommunication, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to keep two hands on the ball,” Bagent said. “I’ve got to protect the ball — that’s a big job of mine when I’m out there. Gotta keep two hands on the ball and be more efficient in that area.”
Three drives later, Bagent marched the Bears 77 yards downfield in 4:56 and executed a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown to cut Minnesota’s lead to 19-13. On Chicago’s final possession, with a chance to lead a game-winning drive, Bagent underthrew Bears wide receiver DJ Moore after completing his seven previous passes and was intercepted.
Bagent finished 10-of-14 for 83 yards and an interception.
“I thought he started out, was not great at first, but again that’s everybody,” Eberflus said. “That’s 11 guys in there operating. But I think once he got settled down, he put that drive together and then you could see what he can do. He could do off-schedule stuff. He can escape. He made a few nice throws there, and his mobility is good. I thought his timing was good on a lot of those passes that he threw. So I thought he looked good.”
Eberflus said the Bears have a contingency plan in place at quarterback should Fields miss time. When asked how Chicago’s offensive identity may be altered with Bagent at quarterback, Eberflus deferred to waiting on the results of Fields’ MRI before making any decisions.
“We’ll see where Justin is,” Eberflus said. “In terms of the identity of it, we’re going to have to look hard and see how we can get the ball down the field and score points. That’s the No. 1 thing we have to do.”
Prior to Sunday’s loss, Bagent had only appeared in limited action during Chicago’s three preseason games. He is the only Division II quarterback currently on a 53-man roster league-wide.
“I’m obviously very confident in myself,” Bagent said of his mindset in the event he starts Week 7 against the Las Vegas Raiders. “Nothing changes for me. Since day one I was preparing as if I was go to play the whole game. That’s kind of how I approach the game. I like to know what’s going on at all times. Nothing is really going to change for this week. Back to the drawing board and get ready for Vegas this coming week.”