Teammates ready to follow Justin Fields’ lead
The Bears have changed quarterbacks before, but Fields potential to alter the dynamic of the position and take the offense to another level has teammates eager to see what happens.
In the Patrick Mahomes template the Bears are now only kind of following, wide receiver Darnell Mooney plays the role of Tyreek Hill — wide open way downfield after Justin Fields escapes a sack, weaves through pass-protection chaos and not only avoids disaster but finds an opportunity.
“If he’s running, you better run deep because he wants to throw the ball deep,” Mooney said with a smile.
As much as Bears fans are excited about Fields making his first NFL start Sunday against the Browns in Cleveland, teammates who stand to benefit much more directly are even more excited about what the rookie can do.
It might not happen Sunday — a rookie quarterback starting on the road against a playoff team generally is not a recipe for success. But with his dazzling speed and mobility, his powerful arm and his improvisational abilities, Fields has the potential to add a dimension at quarterback that even many players haven’t had the opportunity to see.
Speedsters Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd know they could be that guy downfield. Every player has to alter his thinking a bit because Fields is so different from injured starter Andy Dalton. Nobody knows just how it will work out. But they can’t wait to find out.
“Oh, yeah, I’m eager for sure,” Goodwin said. “We have the same agent, so I’m praying on his success for sure. Yes — throw for 5,000 yards or something. I’m happy, man. I’m excited. I know he’s excited. I’m very eager. But poised at the same time.”
Perhaps nobody quite feels the excitement like second-year tight end Cole Kmet, the St. Viator graduate who grew up a Bears fan and also stands to directly benefit from a blossoming Fields. Kmet had one catch for zero yards on one target against the Bengals.
“I know a lot of guys, a lot of people outside the building are really excited for Justin, obviously ever since we picked him up back in April,” Kmet said. “We’re all really excited for him. I remember last year with myself whenever you get your opportunities it’s -really fun and guys are excited to see him do well. We’re going to be playing hard for him on Sunday.”
It will be interesting to see how teammates respond to Fields in the actual game. They all play just as hard for Dalton or any quarterback who is on the field. But some quarterbacks command a focus that brings out the best in teammates and lifts the offense collectively. The Bears believe Fields has that leadership gene that eventually will elicit that kind of response.
“I think it’s his poise — that’s something that really stands out,” Kmet said. “Last weekend [against the Bengals] he throws that pick [and] it’s just next play — which is really impressive. So we’ve seen that. He has an ultimate confidence in himself, which is really cool to see. When the quarterback has confidence like that, it instills confidence in everybody else.”
Mooney echoed that sentiment.
“He’s always calm,” Mooney said. “He just wants to make a play and get a dub [a win] for the team. It’s been showing on the field. It’s been showing off the field as well in practice. And with him getting a lot of reps this week, it’s showing as well.”
Goodwin said he felt the energy as soon as Fields stepped on the field in place of Dalton last week. “They went crazy. We couldn’t even get the play off barely,” he said.
But on the road will be a greater measurement of whatever aura Fields brings.
“The energy in the huddle was different [when Fields came in],” Goodwin said. “He brings different elements, so I’m excited to see how it will be [in] an away game this time and not being at home.”