Manning brothers preach patience with Justin Fields, but they like what they see
They said Fields, in his second season, was basically a rookie again, having to learn a new offense from a new coaching staff. And that takes time.
Peyton and Eli Manning know a thing or two about playing quarterback in the NFL. So Bears fans tuning in to the ManningCast of the game Monday night against the Patriots will be eager to hear what the brothers have to say about Justin Fields.
As a preview, both stressed patience for a fan base starving for a franchise quarterback. They said Fields, in his second season, was basically a rookie again, having to learn a new offense from a new coaching staff. And that takes time.
“I remember my rookie year just hoping the first read was going to be open because I couldn’t remember where the second and third reads were all the time,” said Peyton, who threw a league-high 28 interceptions in 1998. “You only have about 2½ seconds. But the more you practice those plays and the more you start playing, you’re doing it quickly.”
Peyton benefitted from working with the same offensive coordinator, Tom Moore, for 13 seasons with the Colts. When he played for the Broncos, Peyton ran a lot of the same plays the Colts ran. Eli played for the same head coach, Tom Coughlin, for 12 seasons with the Giants and had the same offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride, for seven of them, during which he won two Super Bowls.
“I remember in my 11th year, I go into a new offense, and it took me five or six weeks to get comfortable,” Eli said of the Giants’ switch from Gilbride to Ben McAdoo in 2014, “and find out what are my favorite plays, the coaches find out what plays to call, what guys are capable of doing.”
Still, the Mannings like what they see from Fields.
“I see Justin competing his tail off in every game and making a lot of unbelievable plays when nothing’s there,” Eli said. “It’s supposed to be a screen to the running back; it’s covered; he runs for a first down. I see he’s learning, and that takes time.
“The offensive line is struggling, he’s getting hit quickly sometimes, receivers aren’t getting a ton of separation at times. So he’s having to be creative, but he’s not making a whole lot of mistakes. He’s not forcing things. He’s not throwing interceptions and putting the team at a disadvantage.”
Said Peyton: “Watching film, you see his toughness, his athleticism. And you can tell when he really is comfortable in certain plays, he can make all the throws. It’s just natural if you’re not comfortable sometimes, things don’t look so good.
“Reps and playing is the best way to do it. And sometimes you have to go through some growing pains.”