Justin Fields passed a Michael Vick record. What could be next for the Bears QB?

Growing up outside of Atlanta, Justin Fields idolized Michael Vick. From the day Vick was drafted with the No. 1 pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, he was a legit cheat code on the field. When he broke out of the pocket, defenders were often left in the dust.

The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, the all-time leader in rushing yards for a quarterback, made play after play with his legs, including the day he gashed the Minnesota Vikings for 173 yards on Dec. 1, 2002. That set an NFL single-game record for most rushing yards by a quarterback — and Fields witnessed it all as a young athlete.

“I remember being 8 years old, wearing his cleats,” Fields said last year in a radio interview. “Had to get his cleats when I was younger. Definitely one of the most electric players I’ve seen in my lifetime. I talk to him now and again, and it’s always great hearing from him and just the advice he gives me.”

On Sunday, Fields surpassed Vick’s regular-season rushing record with 178 yards and a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins. The all-time quarterback rushing mark is owned by Colin Kaepernick, who amassed 181 yards in a 2013 playoff game against the Green Bay Packers.

JUSTIN. FREAKING. FIELDS.

📺: #MIAvsCHI on CBS pic.twitter.com/jFMAg0BeH7

— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 6, 2022

What’s next for Fields? With 602 rushing yards through the Bears’ first nine games — and a Week 10 matchup against a porous Detroit Lions defense — Fields is tracking toward threatening Lamar Jackson’s regular-season record for most rushing yards by a quarterback (1,206).

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In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, Vick, whose career was interrupted by a federal prison stay for his role in a dog-fighting ring in 2007, explained that he was on a plane when he received a text message letting him know his single-game record was in jeopardy.

While sad he no longer owns the record, Vick said he is extremely happy to see the direction the game is headed — giving quarterbacks more freedom to use their legs as another weapon to beat defenses. He’s particularly pleased that Fields is starting to enjoy some success.

“It is always bittersweet when those records get broken,” Vick said, “but that’s what it is all about — the next generation doing it just a little bit better.

“I have watched Fields play about five or six games. I see him growing and getting better each and every week and playing with a lot of confidence. I see the guys rallying around him, and they don’t always get the results they want, but that is certainly a team that has a lot of room to grow. … Justin is only going to get better.”

With Vick’s record and the game changing to encourage mobile quarterbacks to use their legs, it was only a matter of time before his mark eventually fell with the likes of Jackson, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and Fields gracing the game. If one compared Vick’s game-winning 46-yard run against Minnesota with Fields’ 61-yard scamper Sunday, there are noticeable similarities. Both quarterbacks initially looked to pass. Fields eyed receiver Darnell Mooney but then elected to tuck the ball and run after Mooney turned his back at the last moment.

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Bears coach Matt Eberflus said those are the kind of plays you simply can’t coach.

“Just the athleticism,” Eberflus said in the postgame news conference. “The timing of his passing game was great. I’ve always said this: His deep-ball passing has always been good. He’s always thrown those very well. The intermediate passing is getting better; his pocket presence is getting better.

“And then the unscripted athleticism, the plays that he showed with the 61-yard run and the keepers, and really his discernment and his wisdom to be able to get down. I know there was one where he had an inside run and he slid after the first-down marker. That was excellent. He limited his exposure in there. I think that was an important part going forward, being wise that way. Obviously, just a tremendous athlete and the plays he made in that game, to set the record, was unbelievable. Pretty fun to watch.”

Vick, who also played for the Philadelphia Eagles (2009-13), New York Jets (2014) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2015), all after serving his sentence, is anticipating more records being broken — particularly with the league embracing the mobile quarterback more than ever.

“It’s really cool, man,” Vick told the Tribune. “We’ve been using our legs for the last 20, 25 years, and that is quarterbacks coming in all shapes and sizes. Now we all are embracing it as a way to show toughness, as a way to continue to move the chains and a way to continue to help offenses evolve.

“It’s great to see quarterbacks getting into the mix. Every two or three possessions, you are seeing a designed quarterback run. I never thought the game would be this way. It’s a treat to watch these young guys go out there and do it and have success. It’s putting a lot of stress on defensive coordinators. … The dynamic of the game is changing.”

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(Photo: Mike Dinovo / USA Today)

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