The Bears have been pleased with the progress of Justin Fields, and on Sunday, everyone will know first-hand just how much he has matured since last season. The second-year QB has demonstrated leadership and improved his awareness in the pocket. He commands the huddle and has a firm grasp of the system according to his coaches. In the preseason finale in Cleveland, he displayed excellent decision-making in completing 14 of 16 passes for 156 yards with three touchdowns on five possessions.
None of that matters this weekend, except the confidence boost that comes with being at the top of your game. Fields did not turn the ball over once in preseason play. He’s ready for prime time.
“I just think he’s ready to go,” coach Matt Eberflus said Friday. “The coaches have done a great job of preparing him to be ready, and he’s excited. ‘Excited’ means that you’re ready, you’re focused, you’re prepared and you’re ready to do it. That’s where I think he is and that’s where I know he is. He’s done that on the practice field and we’re all excited to watch our whole football team go out there.”
Chicago’s top playmakers will lead an offense that was near the bottom of the NFL in 2021. Darnell Mooney is Chicago’s top wide receiver. Cole Kmet will have a breakout year in Luke Getsy’s offense. David Montgomery won’t be wasting away on the sidelines or working as strictly a decoy.
Fields had the best game of his career against the 49ers last season. He completed 19 of 27 passes for 175 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and an 84.7 passer rating in a 33-22 loss. He also rushed for a career-high and team-leading 103 yards on 10 carries, including a highlight-reel 22-yard TD.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 31, 2021
Fields is much closer to being a franchise quarterback than he was a year ago. He also doesn’t have to watch over his shoulder anymore to see if he’s about to be replaced.
“Now I’m the guy, so of course, we’re gonna build the offense around me [and] around the stuff that we do well as an offense,” Fields said. “It’s just a different mindset. Just not worrying about, ‘If I make a mistake, will I get taken out?’ It just feels way better, for sure.”
It’s easier for the young quarterback to feel that way after an offseason in which Chicago’s front office sought to deploy an offense designed to make Fields a dominant weapon. Getsy was hired specifically to architect that scheme. That commitment means Ryan Poles, Eberflus, and Getsy are treating Fields as an elite quarterback.
The Bears still have issues on the offensive line and are thin at the skill positions. But the addition of Getsy and the implementation of his Shanahan-style offense has the players excited for the start of the season. Fields is being counted on to lead that offense.
“There are things that he’s shown. I’ve seen exactly what he can do,” Mooney said of Fields. “He’s gonna shine for sure, [and] blossom. He’s gonna prove everything that everybody doubted him on – especially in Week 1. That team passed on him. So they’re gonna have to pay a little bit for that.”
Bears News & Notes
- The rumors that the Bears almost traded Fields to the Seahawks for Russell Wilson are reportedly true.
- Sunday’s game will be the first matchup between Fields and 49ers quarterback Trey Lance. San Francisco passed on Fields to select Lance at No. 3 overall. The Bears then traded up from the 20th pick to No. 11 to grab Fields.
- Despite the marquee billing, the better defense will most likely decide Sunday’s game.
- Dan Hampton believes Fields has matured enough to take a big step forward in his progression to franchise quarterback.
- Most analysts pick the Bears to be one of the league’s worst teams, but Adam Rank of NFL.com disagrees.
- Our own Sean Holland previewed Sunday’s contest against the 49ers and provides the keys to a possible Bears upset.
- Eberflus said the Bears “will write their own book” amid all the gloomy projections.
- The first-year head coach sought advice from Alabama coaching legend Nick Saban earlier this week.
- If the Bears are going to silence the critics their defense is going to have to force more turnovers.
- Jaylon Johnson and Robert Quinn said the defense is ready to silence the team’s doubters.
- Chicago’s defense intends to lean on their new H.I.T.S. philosophy in an attempt to contain wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said Bears tacklers will swarm to the ball and hit plenty hard.
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot will continue to have discussions with the league to bring another NFL team to Soldier Field once the Bears leave for Arlington Park. The McCaskeys can buy out the final seven years of the current lease for $84 million as early as 2026.
There’s a Flag…On the Play
This is way off base.
Awfully presumptuous assuming Bears will score a Touchdown this Sunday…
49ers might cover 7 twice. https://t.co/vUxiqRTrmG
— Chad Forbes (@NFLDraftBites) September 9, 2022
- The 49ers are going to key on stopping Moon and Quinn, and are counting on Nick Bosa to win his matchup against Larry Borom.
- San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan said Lance is as ready to go as he can be. Shanahan added that he wishes Lance had more practice time, however.
- Shanahan shut down claims that the team has little faith in Lance.
- The 49ers are expecting a low-scoring game, and believe that turnovers will be the deciding factor.
- San Francisco is expected to be a Super Bowl contender, but their quarterback variable hovers as one of the NFC’s top wild cards.
- The 49ers have no shortage of veteran offensive weapons, and that’s something the team can feel really good about heading into Sunday’s game.
- This will be the seventh meeting between these teams since 2014 (San Francisco has the 35-32-1 all-time series lead), and this will be the fourth game at Soldier Field during this stretch. In those seven games, the Bears are 3-4 against the Niners.
Lance looked good on this touchdown pass, though he was not working against Green Bay’s first-string defense.
Trey Lance: QB1pic.twitter.com/441q02a4zB
— PFF (@PFF) August 13, 2022
NFL News & Notes
The Saints could be Super Bowl sleepers, and analysts might be overrating the Broncos just a bit.
High-priced NFL announcers will prove they’re a colossal waste of money.
Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust
- This season marks the 100-year anniversary of the Bears as “the Bears.” They were known as the Staleys in 1920-21.
- The Bears have won eight NFL championships and one Super Bowl. The 49ers have won five Super Bowls.
- Former Bear Beattie Feathers became the first back in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He gained 1,004 yards in 1934.
From the Podium
- “In today’s age, everybody looks at everything. It’s part of our life now. You understand, you put that in a bucket, it’s an opinion of somebody’s or it isn’t fact. We write our own story. I told the guys that all the time — we’re writing our own book. And then we do it one game at a time. And then you can micro it down to each play. Every game, individual players write their own book. They go, play 1, alignment, assignment, key, technique, execution, production — did you get it done? Turn the page, play No. 2, and that’s the cycle of the snap. That’s what we’ve gotta do as a football team and as individuals.” – Eberflus
- “Mostly, it comes down to [being] yourself. I can’t be another coach. I have to be myself. If you do that, it’s genuine. If you’re honest and you’re honest in your relationships you have in the course of the team and you listen to your instincts, then good things are going to happen.” – Eberflus
- “You’ve gotta know [Deebo] is, and you’ve gotta know what plays to expect when he’s in the backfield, plays when he’s in the slot, and plays when he’s out wide. So that’s one. Then you’ve gotta understand that off of that they can use him as a decoy for some other things. So you can’t focus too much on one thing, because obviously another thing opens up. It’s a lot to gameplan for, so that’s why they do it.” – Nicholas Morrow
- “With our defense, we’re getting seven-plus to the football. We’re swarming to the ball, we’re making sure that we’re gap sound. Additionally, we have to tackle. Football is a physical game. It’s not flag football, so with that in mind, we have to hit.” – Williams
Running Out the Clock
When you’ve got a fever for Bears football.