LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields admitted feeling different heading into his second NFL offseason given the uncertainty he doesn’t face about his quarterback status- starting back of the team.
“It feels good to have that mindset,” Fields said. “It’s definitely a different mindset to last year, so I’m ready for the role and I’m ready to lead this offense and lead this team.”
The Bears began a voluntary three-day minicamp on Tuesday where the majority of the offense was in attendance. The only player absent for afternoon practice was quarterback Nick Foles, whose general manager Ryan Poles said the team was “working on” the trade last month during owners’ meetings. NFL.
Fields’ offensive proficiency impressed coach Matt Eberflus, who also noted the quarterback’s footwork has become cleaner, which will help him reach the ball and get it out quicker.
“I think he did a great job today,” Eberflus said. “He really did. He was commanding the attack, really every play I saw. There’s definitely when you’re working with 11 guys, there’s been a mistake here and there by that person or that person, but man, he had very good command today.”
Chicago is approaching the one-year anniversary of advancing nine places in the first round of the 2021 draft to select Fields 11th overall. The former Ohio State quarterback was behind Foles and former Bears quarterback Andy Dalton on the depth chart throughout the offseason and training camp and only started at Week 3 after Dalton got injured.
“Last year was my first year of course, my first in the league, I didn’t know if I was going to start or not, I didn’t know if I was going to play, so my mindset in this moment is completely different than last year,” Fields said. “I’m just excited to start.”
While attending offensive meetings in recent weeks, Eberflus has noticed leadership qualities with Fields, particularly his confidence when it comes to ordering a new playbook.
“He has very good confidence in the room,” Eberflus said. “When I’m in the quarter room, when I’m in the offensive room, (he) calls plays, executes, then what are the adjustments if we can have that for that particular game.”
Learning a new offense under offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who has spent the past three seasons in Green Bay, has been Fields’ primary focus since the Bears began their offseason program on April 4. In addition to learning the fundamentals of the program and what will be needed from him, Fields began to change the specifics of his game.
The quarterback worked with Getsy to modify his footwork after stepping back into the shotgun, noting that last season he stepped back with his right foot forward and now steps back with his left foot forward, which is routine in the Packers scheme.
“It’s just what they do in their offense,” Fields said. “It’s better timed with routes and stuff like that, that’s why we do it.”
Although he’s solidified himself as a starter ahead of his sophomore season, Fields still sees the challenges that come with having to ramp up learning an all-new offense over the next five months. Chicago will host OTAs next month after the draft and will host a veteran minicamp June 14-16 before taking a break before training camp.
“It would be easier if it was the same offense as last year and we could just progress on that,” Fields said. “But kind of just reset, from rookie year with learning about this new offense and just kind of picking it up. I think that’s going to be the hardest part, with this new regimen of Training is just learning about this new offense and making sure we all understand, down to the details.”