In an eye-opening first press conference of the week, Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields offered a telling assessment of what has hindered his progress to this point in his third NFL season. His answer, while rooted in self-reflection and a renewed vow to get back to playing “his game”.
Asked whether or not they could have worked through the offense’s issues or Fields’ comfort within the offense in the preseason, Matt Eberflus says they are instead looking forward.
“I just think we’re in the present. We’re right here, right now. So I just think that we’re listening to the players, we’re getting feedback – like we always do,” Eberflus said ahead of Wednesday’s practice. “Like I said, we respect the partnership. That’s where it is right now and we’re going to focus on this Wednesday.”
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Fields noted that he had voiced his concerns to his coaches and, while both sides declined to divulge the content of their discussion, they characterized it as “good”.
They also both acknowledged it’s on everyone to do a better job moving forward.
“My goal this week is to just say, ‘F it’ and just go out there and play football how I know how to play football,” Fields said, taking the podium before his head coach. “That includes thinking less and just going out there and playing off of instincts rather than just so much … info in my head, data in my head and literally going out there and playing football.”
Asked what the root for his hesitancy might have been, Fields offered up as clear of an answer as one could without throwing anyone under the bus.
Fields noted that his internal clock needs to be faster in the pocket and that he wants more rhythm.
“Just going back to ‘it’s a game’ and that’s it,” Fields said. “Because that’s when I play my best, is when I’m just out there playing free and being myself. I’m gonna say just, kind of, bump all the ‘what I should do’, this and that, pocket stuff. I’m gonna go out there and be me.”
It was a very similar tone to the one he took following the team’s loss to the Washington Commanders in Week 7 of last season when he noted he was “tired of the offense getting close”, sparking an offensive turnaround.
Fields has completed 60.6% of his passes for 427 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. The yardage and completion percentage are both up from this time last season, though he has thrown one more interception and fumbled the ball three times compared to once in 2022.
His rushing attempts are down from 19 in 2022 to 13 this season. But he has roughly 14 more yards on those carries.
Bears OL Takes Big Blow
The Bears are still without starting left guard Teven Jenkins for another two weeks. But Eberflus announced on Wednesday that they will also be without left tackle Braxton Jones who was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury. Jones has struggled in the early going this season – just as the rest of the team has. But he was a pleasant surprise last season as a fifth-round rookie. He started every game at one of the most crucial positions.
Eberflus named third-year tackle Larry Borom and second-year guard Ja’Tyre Carter as possible replacements.
Fields and the Bears travel to Kansas City to face Chirs Jones, Patrick Mahomes, and the Chiefs in Week 3. They will do so without Alan Williams once again as his future remains nebulous.