As esteemed philosopher Dwayne ‘‘The Rock’’ Johnson once advised, know your role.
Trevor Siemian does. When the former Northwestern quarterback agreed to a two-year deal with the Bears in March, he knew exactly what he was signing up for: to back up Justin Fields.
Siemian, who has started 29 career games but only five in the last four seasons, ranks second on the depth chart, above Nathan Peterman, whom the Bears signed to a one-year deal this month.
Their goal is the same: to support Fields.
‘‘There’s only one [quarterback] on the field at a time, and there’s not many guys that have done it,’’ Siemian said this week. ‘‘Obviously, you have your coaches and other teammates. But I’ve always thought it’s good to have guys in your foxhole, so to speak, and be able to bounce ideas off them and be there for them.’’
Last season, the Bears’ quarterbacks room wasn’t designed to serve Fields. Andy Dalton, who had signed a one-year deal, was the starter to begin the season. Nick Foles was the third-stringer and not happy about it, telling the world in August: ‘‘Is aspiring to be a ‘3’ what I want? No, it’s not.’’
Fields always has been complimentary about the way Dalton and Foles comported themselves in the meeting room last year. But there’s no question that a clear delineation of roles — with Fields at the top of the depth chart — this year is an upgrade. The Bears’ new quarterbacks aren’t as accomplished as the old ones, nor are they outraged that they’re backups.
‘‘I think we’re always trying to foster a relationship where we’re holding each other up, but we’re also competing at the same time,’’ quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said this week. ‘‘Competing, maybe, in different ways, but we’re all competing at the same time. We’re competing toward the same thing.’’
That is to make Fields the best version of himself.
‘‘I think it’s instrumental for him to just have guys that have experience around him — experience in different ways, whether they be starters, whether they be backups before,’’ Janocko said. ‘‘And then they have different perspectives they bring to the room. I think it is important to have guys that are going to lift him up behind him.’’
Coach Matt Eberflus was succinct in describing what he wants out of his backup quarterbacks.
‘‘Support in all ways,’’ he said. ‘‘Mental support, being there for [Fields], helping him through the process of learning.’’
The Bears are under new management because they couldn’t do that last season. Gone from the quarterbacks room are offensive-minded coach Matt Nagy, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. Play-caller Luke Getsy — Aaron Rodgers’ former position coach — and Janocko now make up the Bears’ under-center brain trust.
They are changing Fields’ on-field habits. Fields’ throwing motion has been shortened, with Janocko saying that he’s ‘‘just trying to be efficient and compact.’’ Last season, Fields put his left foot forward when he was in the shotgun; this season, it’s his right. His coaches think it will help his timing.
Like Getsy has in the past, Janocko praised Fields’ work ethic, detailing how much time he spends inside Halas Hall and the homework he does outside it. He called Fields ‘‘ahead of pace’’ in learning the offense.
Siemian said Fields has the ‘‘prerequisites to play at a high level’’: intelligence and accuracy. He has seen it up close before. He shared a quarterbacks room with Peyton Manning in 2015, the season the Broncos won the Super Bowl, and was in the same position group as the Titans’ Ryan Tannehill and the Saints’ Drew Brees in 2020.
‘‘I wasn’t trying to be Peyton; I wasn’t trying to be Drew,’’ Siemian said. ‘‘But if I could pick up a thing here or there and apply it to my own game, then I’ll be in good shape.’’
His goal now, like that of everyone else in the Bears’ quarterbacks room, is to help Fields be Fields.
‘‘I just want to have a good support system for [Fields],’’ Janocko said. ‘‘And whether it be myself, Luke, coach [Eberflus] or any of the backups in that room, [give him] the support that he needs going forward, building whatever he does. And that we can lift him up and provide him with different perspectives of looking at the same thing, all to help him be successful.’’