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Browns have nothing to fear but fear itself with Justin Fields in Pittsburgh

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By: Thomas Moore

Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Cleveland fans have an irrational fear of seeing Fields with the Steelers. But why?

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt uttered one of the most famous phrases in recent American history during his inaugural address.

It was in the opening paragraph that Roosevelt said “… let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Roosevelt was referring to the dark thoughts residing in people’s minds that cause fear, as opposed to something tangible that is worthy of fear.

That phrase came front of mind on Saturday when the news broke of a trade that in most NFL cities would be nothing more than a throwaway line on the transaction wire as the Pittsburgh Steelers acquired quarterback Justin Fields from the Chicago Bears for a conditional sixth-round draft pick.

But because Fields played collegiately at Ohio State, and it was the Steelers involved in the deal, a cold shiver was felt across the souls of far too many members of Browns Nation.

That raises the question of just what are Browns fans afraid of?

If Fields was good, the Bears would never even consider trading him. Rather they would use the No. 1 overall selection in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft to either select another offensive weapon or trade the pick for a haul of additional draft picks to build around Fields.

While it is true that teams can fumble the evaluation process or give up on players too quickly, that is not the case with the Bears and Fields. Chicago and the rest of the NFL have seen Fields play three seasons and put up 40 games of data to evaluate, which is not an insignificant sample size, and the results are not pretty, as The Athletic’s Adam Jahns highlights in his post-trade breakdown.

Among quarterbacks who have played enough to be ranked Fields is:

  • 23rd in quarterback rating
  • 23rd in passing yards per game
  • 23rd in interception rate
  • 22nd in passer rating
  • 31st in sack rate
  • 29th in completion percentage
  • 26th in adjusted net yards per attempt
  • The Bears won only 10 of the 38 games that Fields started over three seasons.

This is a player that should keep Cleveland defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz up at night?

The other boogeyman in the equation is the Steelers, who continue to be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to trades, with the belief that the Steelers somehow have a magical talent evaluation system that eludes the rest of the NFL.

That hasn’t been true for a long time, however, especially at the quarterback position as the Steelers spent the past two seasons with one of the worst quarterback rooms in the NFL with Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky, and Mason Rudolph.

Pittsburgh bailed on Pickett after two seasons by trading him to the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, and let Trubisky and Rudolph both leave in free agency. In their place are Russell Wilson – who the Denver Broncos are paying $37.8 million to not play for them this season – and Fields, who washed out of Chicago after three seasons.

It’s not just the quarterback position where the Steelers have whiffed as the team continues to miss on its first-round draft picks as the team has only selected one player since 2016 who has justified having their fifth-year option picked up.

That is a lot of misses high in the draft for a franchise that allegedly is so good at evaluating talent, no?

The Browns need to be concerned with what the Steelers are up to given that they share the AFC North Division. But Cleveland is busy building a roster that should help the club make the playoffs again in 2024, and nothing the Steelers did this weekend should derail that or give anyone in Orange and Brown reason to be nervous.

As for the fans who are dealing with anxiety over the idea of Fields in Pittsburgh, another well-known quote comes to mind, this one from Walt Kelly’s comic character, Pogo:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Originally posted on Dawgs By Nature – All Posts