Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields tunes out the hoopla: ‘I’m built for this’
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Matt Nagy didn’t have the best view of Justin Fields’ first practice with the Chicago Bears as he watched virtually while quarantining because of a COVID-19 close contact.
But the Bears coach saw enough through an iPad stream to rattle off a list of positives for his new quarterback Friday on the opening day of rookie minicamp.
Fields had good command getting the play call from the headset to the huddle, Nagy said. His mechanics were good. He seemed calm during what can sometimes feel like a blur of a practice for rookies. The former Ohio State star was accurate, with very few of his passes hitting the ground. And he showed poise when another player made an error on a route based on the coverage the defense gave them.
“I thought it was pretty cool that already on Day 1 Justin was going over and in a coachable and teachable way was explaining to that player, ‘Hey, they changed rotation-wise. Next time that happens, you have to run this route instead of that route,’” Nagy said. “Day 1, that’s pretty good.”
Fields and his coaches know he has a long way to go before his first Bears start. And so this weekend’s three-day minicamp with other Bears rookies is about getting a feel for the foundation Fields has and then taking small steps forward.
“My short-terms goals are just to be crisp with the huddle call,” Fields said. “Making sure I’m precise with my reads and stuff like that and really taking command of the huddle. And show the guys out there that I am leading the offense.”
In the two weeks since the Bears traded up to draft him No. 11, Fields has been meeting with Nagy, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo over Zoom. He’s getting used to the terminology the Bears use and learning the playbook. He said he’ll go over his notes for 30-45 minutes after meetings to absorb the info and draw formations on flash cards to study.
“He’s always got that competitive drive ingrained in him — that’s where he’s at all the time,” Nagy said. “He also has that other side to him as well. The more that we have these meetings, the more that we work with him, the more that we realize and get to see his commitment to being focused on the details of this offense and see how fast he can grow, it gives us a chance to be able to work off of that.”
Fields said he is comfortable waiting behind quarterback Andy Dalton until Nagy determines he’s ready to start. He also understands he’s playing beside two quarterbacks in Dalton and Nick Foles who have been in the league nearly two decades between them.
“I’m not oblivious,” he said. “I know I’m not going come out here and, you know, be mistake-free.”
But at the same time, Fields is out to show he should be the starter..
“Everybody on our team should be striving for the starting job,” he said. “If you’re not, then there’s no reason for you to be here. Of course, I’m going to do everything I can to get that starting job. It’s not up to me. Coach Nagy, he has a set plan on my development and stuff like that. I’m just going to work hard and keep my head down and keep grinding out there every day.”
He thinks his experience as a highly recruited player out of Georgia and the Ohio State starter has prepared him for the hoopla.
“I’ve been kind of in the spotlight since high school,” he said. “So I kind of feel like I’m made for this. I’m built for this. It’s nothing new to me. I’m just going to continue to work hard and get better every day.”