For a physical specimen like Justin Fields, there likely won’t be much of a struggle in adjusting to the athleticism of the NFL. The mental aspect — what the Bears ask of Fields, and what defenses throw at Fields — is an entirely different obstacle. By the time Chicago reports to training camp at Halas Hall in late July, the 22-year-old quarterback will be expected to have a thorough understanding of the Bears’ baseline arsenal of plays.
It’s a challenge that needs diligence. As Chicago closes out spring activities, the onus is on Fields to use every spare second of his time to master.
“Right now, I have a base idea of what plays we have, so just diving into that more and just focusing on the small details,” Fields said in a Thursday afternoon press conference. “When you have a big base, you can really start detailing each and every specific thing in a play and really get to know a play like the back of your hand. That’s what I’m going to be doing.”
One benefit Fields has going in his favor is a full off-season. The Bears and their young passer have been hard at work over the past several weeks — something no one was able to do in Lake Forest last year due to COVID-19. A rookie introduction followed by a veteran mini-camp have paid off with tremendous dividends for Fields as he acclimates to professional football.
“These last few weeks have been a big help for me just to get around the veteran guys, learn from them, learn from guys like Andy (Dalton), guys like Nick (Foles),” Fields continued. “The more reps in practice that I have, the more I’ll grow. These last few weeks have been great, and I’ve definitely learned a lot and I think I’ve definitely progressed each and every day.”
One play in Thursday’s practice, along with its aftermath, exemplified exactly what the Bears have in Fields. Despite a lot of time spent on his pinpoint passing of late, Fields made a mistake in a red zone drill that was intercepted by Christian Jones. Rather than dwell on what could’ve or should’ve been, meticulous work began to make sure the same throw on the same play never happens again. It’s common sense, but easier said than done for most.
Fields understands fixing his missteps won’t be a simple task. And the Bears don’t expect him to have every problem solved right away. It’s not realistic. Some things can only be taught through active repetition against live defenses, after all. But if he’s to reach his potential, an earnest, thorough effort must be submitted on every blemish.
In this regard, Fields is already so far ahead of the curve.
“Me personally, I tend not to make a mistake more than one time,” Fields said. “So once I’ve made that mistake, I learn from that mistake and there’s a 99.9 percent [chance] that that same mistake will not happen again.”