The Chicago Bears recognized Justin Fields as a special talent and traded up for him with confidence that he can become a franchise quarterback. While it’s still very early in the offseason, Fields is already making an impression.
Widely considered the second-best quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft, Fields slipped on draft night. While the draft-day slide surprised many, Chicago rejoiced the moment Fields was drafted No. 11 overall.
For now, the Bears are committed to Andy Dalton as the starting quarterback for Week 1, and there is confidence within the organization he can help them win games. But Dalton’s grip on the QB1 job might not last for long, especially with the work Fields is already doing in Chicago.
Organized team activities are underway in Chicago, and the rookie is getting all the reps he can handle. While Dalton is getting plenty of work with the first-team offense, the Bears recognize this summer as the perfect time to give Fields all the opportunities he can handle.
So far, so good for the former Ohio State star. Just a few days into OTAs, Bears players, beat writers and team insiders are already raving about the 22-year-old quarterback.
Bears’ No. 2 receiver Darnell Mooney, a great vertical threat, offered glowing praise for Fields after a recent practice. It only took a few deep throws before Mooney was “smiling mid-route” from just tracking the flight of the ball and the compliments didn’t end there. Mooney said (per NBC Sports Chicago):
“It’s a beautiful ball, man. He knows where he wants to put it and it’s very accurate. Sometimes it can get there at the right ball, but he wants it out in front of you and he’ll get frustrated with himself if it’s not there. He’s very tough on his self. He’s a great player, great person as well, and he’s gonna have a good career.”
Chicago could rarely deliver explosive plays in 2020, with Mitchell Trubisky often missing his spots on deep attempts. Dalton was brought in to provide stability at the position, but throwing 20-plus yards downfield isn’t one of his strengths. It’s just another area where Fields stand out.
One Bears’ staffer told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer that Fields is showing strong command during practice, is playing with confidence and displaying quiet confidence. Even more importantly, he is very coachable and doing everything the team is asking of him.
While the rookie has made some mistakes, mainly handling the quarterback-center exchange, Dalton isn’t creating any separation. The veteran threw a trio of interceptions on Wednesday, and his counterpart received a majority of the praise.
Dalton will likely enter training camp listed as the Bears’ starting quarterback. Just don’t be surprised if Fields takes the field in Week 1.