After pregame confusion, Bears QB Trevor Siemian battles through oblique injury in loss to Jets
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Backup quarterback Trevor Siemian learned Sunday morning that he would be starting for the Chicago Bears.
Starting QB Justin Fields was dealing with an injured left shoulder and wasn't officially ruled out until hours before Sunday's loss, 31-10, against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
It should've been simple enough: Fields is out, Siemian is in. Then things got weird.
Siemian strained his oblique prior to kickoff, but after the Bears had already designated Fields as inactive. Word trickled out that Siemian might not play. The Bears even made an official announcement on Twitter less than an hour before kickoff that third-string QB Nathan Peterman would start.
Behind the scenes, Siemian was taking medication and telling himself that he couldn't let an injury in warm ups keep him off the field.
"Honestly, I'm more embarrassed," Siemian said afterward. "You get an injury and I've got guys (on the team) in Week 12 going through hell."
Forty minutes before the game, Siemian returned to the field for warmups with the entire team. This time, he felt better. He took reps with the first-team offense and wound up starting the game a short while later.
"I could play," Siemian said. "I could do everything that I needed to do."
A crazy hour before the game turned into a deflating loss to the Jets, one in which captain Eddie Jackson and star receiver Darnell Mooney both left the game with injuries. Siemian finished the afternoon 14-for-25 passing for 179 yards with a touchdown and one interception. The Bears' offense scored all 10 points in the first half and converted only 1-of-7 third-down attempts in the second half.
"I thought it was good," head coach Matt Eberflus said of Siemian's play. "Coming out there and really operating the offense the way we expected him to those first couple drives, that's a really good sign that he was ready."
Before the game, Sam Mustipher was listening to music on his phone -- getting in the right frame of mind -- when an ESPN alert flashed across the screen. Peterman was starting for Siemian. This was news to the starting center.
"From my understanding, Trev was always going to be starting," Mustipher said.
Siemian said he did not receive any shots to numb the pain before the game, but he did take some painkillers.
As the backup, Siemian prepares to play every game. With Fields' status uncertain this week, the Bears really weren't making a decision until the weekend. All three quarterbacks took reps with Mustipher and the starters. By Friday, though, Siemian had a pretty good idea that he would be the starting quarterback come Sunday. He didn't know for certain that he would start until Sunday morning.
"Nate and I had already got reps this week and we had got reps during training camp," Mustipher said. "And Nate's played football in the NFL. Both those guys have. So we're fortunate in that regard."
Peterman, who never did enter the game, declined to comment afterward.
"It didn't change at all for any of the receivers, I don't think," receiver Chase Claypool said. "We were rolling through the guys throughout the week, so we were ready for every quarterback."
For Siemian, a Northwestern grad, this was his 30th career NFL start. He signed with the Bears as a free agent in March following a season and a half as a backup in New Orleans. Most of his starting experience came in 2016 and 2017 when he started 24 games for the Denver Broncos after Peyton Manning retired.
The Bears (3-9) have now lost five consecutive games. Fields' status moving forward remains in question.
"We think that he's getting better every single day," Eberflus said. "At the game time today, he wasn't able to perform and protect himself."
Eberflus said Fields remains "day-to-day." The Bears have the Packers next week at Soldier Field, followed by the bye in Week 14. It could be an opportunity to give Fields some extended rest if he sits out next week.
With the team's playoff hopes sunk, that course of action might make the most sense.