When talking about Justin Fields, the first thing most evaluators go to is his physical prowess. That shouldn’t be a surprise. The kid is an absolute freak. At 6’3, he is able to run a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash with many believing he’s capable of reaching 4.3 territory. Unheard of for a quarterback. Combine that with a strong right arm and great accuracy at all levels? It is little wonder so much hype surrounds him after being drafted by the Chicago Bears.
Yet what some have tried to show people is Fields is hardly just another dumb jock with physical ability. He is intelligent. So much in fact that he shocked several evaluators leading up to the draft. Particularly in regards to his ability to absorb and retain information. Renowned sports psychologist Scott Goldman calls this learning efficiency. Something he helps the league gauge with through the use of his Athletic Intelligence Quotient test. Something 387 NFL prospects participated in this year.
This is where Fields blew several people away.
To date, over 6,500 athletes have taken the AIQ. Several of them going on to be highly successful including quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. While both of them scored well on the test, Goldman confirmed that Fields scored even higher. A big reason for this was his performance in the learning efficiency portion of the exam. Goldman informed USA Today Sports of what the QB did. Suffice to say? It was special.
In the 16-question learning efficiency section—think: 16 paired concepts that athletes needed to absorb and then reiterate—Fields identified all 16 responses correctly, Goldman confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.
Of 125 professional quarterbacks who have tested (not all are currently on active rosters) in the last decade, only four other quarterbacks hit all 16. Goldman said Fields’ results mark an outlier among 6,500 total professional athletes whose ability to download and recall he has gauged.
“It happens less than 1% of the time. It’s super rare,” Goldman said Wednesday night by phone. “What it means is we actually didn’t capture his ceiling. We don’t know, (given) he got 16 out of 16 right, is it possible he could have gotten 20 out of 20? 25? 30?”
This should offer an idea of what the Bears are getting in Justin Fields. This kid isn’t one to be overwhelmed by too much information. A common problem young quarterbacks have when they get to the NFL. Mitch Trubisky comes to mind. By the sound of things, he can handle anything Matt Nagy and the coaching staff throws at him. Perhaps that explains why the Bears haven’t been shy about piling on the playbook work since he arrived back in April.
Justin Fields has not been idle since minicamps ended
While the quarterback said he’d return two weeks before training camp, it’s pretty obvious he has been working every day since the team separated for summer vacation. Not only has he taken an opportunity to work out with Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson, but he’s also spent his down periods totally absorbed in his playbook. Every play is covered from shifts to formations, to protections.
What is driving him so hard?
The desire to be great of course. Not to mention his competitive spirit. One that centers on finally bringing some respect to the Bears offense.
“We’re trying to change the culture of the Bears offense,” Fields said. “The Bears’ story has been the defense for I don’t know how long. So we’re trying to get some firepower on the offensive side of the ball.”
Justin Fields has made his message crystal clear from the outset. If you’re not putting in the work to be great and become a starter on this team? Then you’re in the wrong profession. This young man is driven. He has high standards for himself and by extension his team. It was that way in high school, it was that way at Ohio State in college, and it’s going to be that way in Chicago.
If anybody is capable of changing the Bears’ culture, it is him. He not only has the physical skills to do so. He also has intelligence and mental fortitude. No previous QB has had both in such abundance before.