How Fields showed Bears what they want to see on Day 3 of camp originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST – The Bears have praised every aspect of Justin Fields’ game this offseason. From his leadership to his command of the offense and refined footwork, Fields has shown his new staff that he’s the right guy to lead this rebuild.
Fields’ growth in numerous areas undoubtedly should make the Bears optimistic about the quarterback’s future. However, what he did Friday during the Bears’ third training camp practice might have been his most important step to date in the eyes of the new staff.
After a rough practice from the offense Thursday, Fields opened Friday’s red zone session with a poor throw that was behind Darnell Mooney and wound up being picked off by Kyler Gordon. A few possessions later, Fields zipped a ball toward tight end Cole Kmet, but Jaquan Brisker adeptly jumped the route and took it back for a training camp pick-six.
The practice could have got away from Fields after the Bears’ rookies pounced on those two passes. But instead, the second-year quarterback responded and turned in an impressive performance during the remainder of practice.
After the Brisker interception, Fields hit Mooney for a touchdown on a crossing route. That throw seemed to settle him, and the splash plays came next.
Fields faked the hand-off to David Montgomery and boot-legged out to the right where Trevis Gipson was waiting. Fields knew he had tight end Cole Kmet coming open off the fake, but he had to make sure he got the pass over Gipson, who was bearing down on him. So, he jumped. Fields left the ground and tossed the ball over Gipson’s fingertips and right into the hands of Kmet, who took it the rest of the way for a score.
On the next possession, Fields faced pressure in the pocket. He slid left before being flushed out to the right. Fields saw Equanimeous St. Brown in the front corner of the end zone and ripped an off-platform throw toward the receiver. St. Brown was covered nicely by Kindle Vildor but went up and picked the ball off the cornerback’s head for a session-ending touchdown.
Fields capped his day with a perfect seven-on-seven session that saw him toss touchdowns on back-to-back-to-back throws to Mooney, David Montgomery, and N’Keal Harry.
This is what the staff has been wanting to see from Fields – the ability to bounce back.
“Those are a couple nice plays that the defense made. Brisker and Gordon, those are nice plays they made,” head coach Matt Eberflus said. “But that is an example of response. What do you do? The next series, he came in and they handed the ball off on the first one, two more completions, and had a good rest of the practice.
“That to me is always going to, at every position – I just told the guys, ‘It’s the NFL, man. You’re going to get beat. These guys are good. You’re good, but they are good too.’ So how we respond as an individual and a how we respond as a team during the course of a game is going to help us get victories.”
Responding to adversity has been a big theme for Eberflus and his staff since they took over.
That message is probably more important for Fields than anyone else on the team, given the importance of Year 2 in a quarterback’s development and the question marks surrounding the Bears’ offensive line and wide receiving corps.
But every time Fields has had a bad practice or made a mistake, he has bounced right back with one of his best practices. That was true in voluntary workouts, OTAs, mandatory minicamp, and training camp.
It’s just who he is. Who he has always been.
“He’s been that way,” running back David Montgomery said of Fields’ ability to respond. “He’s been the guy that when something happens that he doesn’t like, he always is next play mentality. That’s just who he is as a human, as a person.
“That’s nothing new from Justin.”
New or not, it’s precisely what the Bears want to see from the guy who is the key to their rebuild.
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