It was just one practice rep among thousands that he’s already participated in during his years playing football, but what Justin Fields did today at his first ever practice as a member of the Chicago Bears was noteworthy given the circumstances.
“There was a play today where we had an error in the route based off the coverage that the defense gave us,” head coach Matt Nagy said at his post practice press conference. “And I thought it was pretty cool that already on day one Justin was going over and in a coachable, teachable way, was explaining to that player that, ‘Hey, it changed rotation wise and next time that happens you got to run this route instead of that route.’ I think day one that’s pretty good.”
Knowing the route adjustment a wide receiver is supposed to make — after only having the playbook for a couple weeks — has to make the coaching staff comfortable with their plan to ready their new quarterback.
“I’m very comfortable,” Fields said at his post practice presser when asked his thoughts on the team’s plan for him. “I think it’s very important for the players to trust the coaches and the coaches to trust the players. Whatever, coach Nagy has planned for me, it’s what I’m going to do and what I’m going to follow.”
Hard to call Justin Fields’ first practice anything other than a success. He was accurate (I only saw one pass I would call poor) and showed absolutely zero issues taking snaps from center. Like a Pro Day, it looked like it should — very good. #Bears— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) May 14, 2021
Fields is fully aware he has a learning curve as he transitions to the Bears playbook, to facing NFL defenses, and to the speed of the pro game, but he’s ready to compete. He also didn’t shy away from sharing his feelings about winning the starting quarterback job for the Bears.
“Of course I think everybody on our team should be striving for a starting job, and if you’re not there’s no reason for you to be here,” Fields said. “So of course I’m going to do everything I can to get that starting job. It’s not up to me. Coach Nagy has a set plan for my development, but I’m just going to work hard, keep my head down and keep grinding it out every day.”
100 observations after the #Bears first rookie mini-camp practice:— Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) May 14, 2021
1. Quarterback Justin Fields did nothing to convince me he could not be the starting quarterback in Week 1.
Getting the play and relaying it in the huddle is relatively new for Fields, as was taking a snap while under center and the footwork required to drop back from there, but the Ohio State rookie took it all in stride. He got his offense in and out of the huddle, he looked over things at the line, and he practiced with the confidence of a guy that knows he belongs.
“His mechanics were really good. I thought he seemed super calm,” Nagy said. “A lot of times in these camps, things seem a thousand miles per hour and it didn’t seem that way from where I was.”
And where Nagy was was on a tablet that assistant coach Kyle Childress carried around the practice field, because due to close contact COVID-19 protocols he wasn’t able to be on field.
All jokes aside, Fields looked good today. Calm and organized. He and Dazz Newsome had a really nice connection.— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) May 14, 2021
The little things are often challenging as college players transition to the NFL, but Fields carried himself like a pro, which is honestly how he’s always carried himself.
“He’s got that serious look/mode to him every time he’s around, and then every once in a while, you get that crack of a smile,” Nagy said. “I think he’s always got that competitive drive engrained in him. I think that’s where he’s at all the time. He also has that other side to him as well.”
He knows how to prepare himself for the game, and he talked about all the work he’s been putting in since being drafted in his meetings with Nagy, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, and passing game coordinator/QB coach John DeFilippo. He’s also been living in his playbook, poring over his notes, and studying flashcards to get the mental side of his game down.
“He’s got a really great, professional personality, which I love,” Nagy said about Fields. “He’s all about business right now.”
That was fun watching Justin Fields practice for the first time. He was sharp out there. Very accurate. #Bears— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) May 14, 2021
Fields has been used to the big stage since his teenage years, having been the subject of a documentary while in high school (QB1: Beyond the Lights), being one of the highest rated recruits ever, and of course his consecutive trips to the NCAA playoffs.
He exudes confidence, he embraces his position of leadership, and the energy that he brings to the franchise is palpable.
“I’ve been kinda in the spotlight since high school, so I kinda feel like I’m made for this,” Fields said. “I’m built for this. It’s nothing new to me, I’m just gonna continue to work hard and continue to get better every day.”
You can watch Nagy’s full presser here.
And Fields meets the media after Friday’s practice here.
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