Justin Fields may not show it on his face, but the young quarterback wants to have success as much or even more than Chicago Bears fans. He wouldn’t be putting in the ridiculous amount of work he has if he didn’t want it. That being said, the 23-year-old is smart enough to understand there is no such thing as instant gratification in the NFL. This is especially true when a team is starting over from scratch.
Chicago overhauled large swaths of their offense this offseason, including several new wide receivers. Their coaching staff is also completely new, led by Luke Getsy. That means a different system to learn. Anybody that follows football understands how complex these systems are. It takes a long time to understand, let alone master them. So it was refreshing to hear Fields be so honest about where he and the rest of the offense are at right now after Tuesday’s veteran minicamp practice.
“No, I’m not ready for the season to start. I’m the type of guy that would like to know I’m prepared. So right now I’m just being honest. We’re not ready to play a game right now. And when that time comes, we will be ready. So right now, no, not ready to play a game.”
This kind of level-headed honesty from a QB might seem foreign to some fans.
It shouldn’t. Those who have watched the team for long enough might recall somebody else had a similar mentality during his run with the franchise. That was Jay Cutler. While nobody can say the guy was perfect, he is unquestionably the best quarterback the Bears have had in the past 30 years. Part of his success came from a fundamental understanding of the game, particularly how long it takes before things start clicking.
“Really, without even getting into it, it’s a three-year process to learn an offense. It just is what it is. It’s hard to go out there Year 1 and blow the doors off. But we’re gonna do the best we can with the time allowed, and we’ll see where we’re at.”
He said that during the summer of 2013. His first season with Marc Trestman. People thought he was being unreasonable at the time. Almost ten years after that quote, it is hard not to feel like he was right. The Bears never really learned that lesson, either. They haven’t had the same offensive system in place for three years throughout the entirety of the 2010s. The closest they came was from 2018 to 2021 with Matt Nagy, but that ended when he replaced his entire offensive staff after 2019.
Justin Fields knows what he needs. Will the Bears give it to him?
Yes, he needs good coaching and a good supporting cast. He also needs continuity. He can be expected to thrive in a system if it keeps changing every one or two years. He’s in his second season as a pro and already learning a new one. This is the same problem that bedeviled Cutler during his entire tenure. Chicago can’t let history repeat itself. This is why Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles’ long-term approach is so encouraging.
They understand things aren’t going to go great right away. This team needs a lot of work. That includes Justin Fields. Their job is to help him in any way they can. The first step was putting him in an offense that could take full advantage of his skills. Getsy’s variation of the famed Shanahan wide-zone offense is a terrific fit. The tricky part is the system takes time to learn. Cutler would know. He spent the first three years of his career in it with the Denver Broncos. That third season?
He went to the Pro Bowl.
Fields doesn’t have to be Superman this season. The Bears aren’t asking him to. They want to see progress. More efficiency and fewer mistakes. Above all, learn how to protect himself. If he shows that in 2022, the team will be able to go hog wild next off-season, finding him more help.
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