Justin Fields: Last month showed I can be Bears’ QB of future
“I’m just gonna keep getting better,” he said. “I’m not worried about the next five, 10 years. I’m worried about this week.”
Compared to the atrocious way he started the season, Justin Fields had a better October than Twix and Jelly Belly combined.
Of the 26 quarterbacks who threw at least 100 passes in October, Fields ranked 11th in passer rating, seventh in yards per pass and 20th in passing yards. Only five quarterbacks threw fewer interceptions. His 329 rushing yards were tops among quarterbacks last month.
Fields is in a yearlong tryout to be the face of the Bears’ franchise. But he was asked Wednesday whether the last month proved to his bosses that he could be their choice for the next five to 10 years.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “But I’m just gonna keep getting better. I’m not worried about the next five, 10 years. I’m worried about this week.”
This week, he has a new weapon: wide receiver Chase Claypool, for whom general manager Ryan Poles traded a second-round pick Tuesday afternoon. Fields was asked if it was a sign the Bears were showing faith in him.
“I mean, yeah,” he said. “But anytime you trade for a player like him, you’re just trying to make the team better. Kinda like Coach [Matt Eberflus] said. We’re just trying to make the team better overall.”
Fields said coaches have told him that he has grown every week, and he agrees.
“I’m just worried about continued growth and getting better each day of practice,” he said.
It’s fair to wonder if Poles would’ve traded future draft assets for Claypool if the offense was still mired in the muck of the first month. In the season’s first four games, Fields ranked last among regular quarterbacks in passer rating, completion percentage and passing yards.
Making the trade shows that the Bears believe Fields is worth further investment.
“The passing game is coming alive,” Eberflus said. “I think that’s because of the way we’re running the ball and the way Justin’s getting better in terms of his pocket presence and feeling where he fits in the offense and just running the schemes over and over again.
“There’s just a comfort level. You can see it in the way he’s delivering the ball, his platform, how comfortable he is back there, and we’re just learning. And we’re going to have to learn what Chase does well as we get through this, but that’s going to be a process, too.”
The Bears’ passing offense upgrading from the worst in the NFL in September to competent — and occasionally exciting — in October is the beginning of the journey, not the end. Claypool should hasten the trip.
Fields has never been given a weapon like the 6-4, 238-pound wideout. In his two seasons as a pro, the Bears never signed a free-agent wide receiver to a contract longer than a year. Claypool’s contract runs through the end of 2023.
“I was excited, of course,” Fields said. “He’s a playmaker, a big body, athletic, fast. A great 50/50-ball catcher. . . . And we’re seeing what he can do at practice, the different things that we do at practice, the routes that we give him. Just practicing with him and getting to throw with him a little bit, that will just help me find out what he’s best at doing.”
After watching two receivers drop deep balls Sunday, Fields will appreciate Claypool’s skills down the field.
“Just throw it to him, I guess,” Fields said. “Let it fly.”
Claypool is already a fan.
“I’ve been watching him of late in terms of their most recent prime-time game,” Claypool said. “I know a lot of people are excited about how he’s been playing. And I’m one of those people. So I’m excited to work with him.”