Something interesting is going on around the Chicago Bears. The first two sets of Organized Team Activities are complete, with one more still to come. Yet already, there is a general buzz around the team from the local media. Most of it centers on quarterback Justin Fields. While nobody wants to jump the gun by staying anything outlandish, some are saying the third-year player looks significantly better than he did at the end of 2022. His connection with newly arrived wide receiver D.J. Moore is thriving, and he’s connecting well with others too. The mistakes that characterized much of last season aren’t there.
Adam Hoge of CHGO wrote about this on Twitter. He said that, for once, the general vibe around the quarterback is matched by play on the field. That is a big admission from somebody who is always careful to make any bold statements about this team.
One person that has seen this up close is Alan Williams. The Bears defensive coordinator works against Fields every day in practice since he arrived last year. He knows what the quarterback looked like in drills then. Based on what he’s seeing now, the difference is stark.
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“A couple things. Leadership. Because that’s what you want in your quarterback. I see good decision-making. That’s what you want in your quarterback. I see improved accuracy. That’s what you want in your quarterback. And how fast he’s processing. … I see how he has grown from last year to this year, and practice by practice by practice, he’s growing. So you have to be encouraged when you see those things.”
Justin Fields is passing the first test with flying colors.
Dominating practices in shorts and no pads isn’t anything to celebrate, but it would be a worrying sign if Williams’ defense was giving Fields problems already. It sounds like the opposite is true. Outside of one or two moments, the Bears quarterback has consistently gotten the better of them. Williams is under no obligation to talk up his quarterback. So his answer spoke volumes. If the defensive coordinator makes such admissions about your progress, it must be a good sign.
The best part is Justin Fields has been doing this without one of his best weapons. Darnell Mooney is still rehabbing from the ankle injury that ended his season last year. Chase Claypool has also missed time with some soft tissue injuries. None of that has mattered. Fields kept making plays regardless. He even utilized the stone-handed Dante Pettis to win a two-minute drill this week. It’s clear his confidence inside the system is growing, and that is leading to results on the field. Training camp will be the next step.