“Don’t expect to see Dwayne Haskins-like accuracy from Justin Fields this season because it’s just not realistic.”
Those are my words, paraphrased, which I have used repeatedly to caution Ohio State fans from heaping unrealistic expectations on Justin Fields’ ability to fit footballs into tight windows like Dwayne Haskins could.
Haskins, as I would tell people, is the greatest passing quarterback in Ohio State history, so you shouldn’t hold Fields to that standard right out of the gate.
“Think more of JT Barrett or Braxton Miller in terms of accuracy,” I remember saying.
Watching Fields on Saturday, however, it’s pretty clear that it’s okay to expect a little more from his pinpointedness than maybe I had been touting.
Fields completed 20-of-25 passes for 224 yards with two touchdowns on Saturday against Cincinnati. The truly amazing part of that stat line is that three of his passes were thrown away because nobody was open. Another pass hit KJ Hill in the hands right as a defender reached him, breaking the pass up. Fields only threw one pass that was intended for a receiver that wasn’t catchable. That’s not a bad afternoon.
After two games, Fields is now completing 76.0% of his passes, which is good for 11th in the nation.
After two games last year, Haskins was completing 79.2% of his passes, so I was still a little correct in saying we shouldn’t view Haskins’ numbers as attainable.
But even knowing that Fields was a tremendous passer in high school and a winner of the Elite 11 competition over Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, his accuracy has been more impressive than expected.
Maybe even more impressive than his head coach expected.
“It was some really accurate throws out there,” Ryan Day said after the game on Saturday. “I think the touchdown to Garrett Wilson was off the charts. That throw and catch there, that was NFL material there. Top shelf. It’s what we call the back of the end zone. And the catch for Garrett — Garrett had a mistake early in the game. He could have gone in the tank, didn’t, and came back, made a catch for us.
“That’s what we need, guys to make plays in the red zone and receivers and quarterbacks make their money on third down in the red zone. And they did. But there were some other ones — the back shoulder. I’ll tell you what, the back-shoulder fade between he and Bin Victor is something else. It’s something we work hard on. We talk about all the different things that come with this.”
The performance was a far cry from his 4-of-13 passing line back in April’s spring game, which seems like a lifetime ago and was something that never should have actually been a data point when thinking about the 2019 season.
And while I’m still going to say you’ll need to be careful when comparing Fields to Haskins, there is this little bit of information that is pretty interesting.
In Dwayne Haskins’ first two starts last year, he accounted for 561 yards of total offense and nine touchdowns, with one interception.
In Justin Fields first two starts this year, he has accounted for 561 yards of total offense and nine touchdowns, with no interceptions.
It may mean nothing in a week or two, but it’s still another indicator of Fields being even better than advertised.
His true measure, of course, will come down to how well he does all season long, and most especially in 82 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
But until then, feel free to be impressed by the way Justin Fields is throwing the ball, even if it’s not quite as good as the best Buckeye to ever do it.