Franchise quarterbacks come in many different forms. The days of prototype pocket passers who stand 6-foot-4 with immaculate mechanics are long gone. Quarterbacks can be shorter, improvisational, throw from any arm angle that works and even be sub-6-feet tall. But one trait remains necessary for success: confidence. Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields began the first voluntary minicamp of his second season in the league on Tuesday, and if one thing was abundantly clear from his time with the media, it’s that he’s oozing with confidence entering his sophomore season.
“Last year, my rookie year, I didn’t know if I was going to start or not, didn’t know if I was going to play,” Fields said from Halas Hall Tuesday. “My mindset right now is completely different than last year, and I’m just excited to get started.”
The 2021 offseason was littered with frustration for Bears fans. Former Head Coach Matt Nagy took his best swing at sinking Fields’ rookie year by insisting he didn’t have a chance to unseat veteran Andy Dalton for the starting job in training camp. It was a stubborn and downright foolish approach to the Bears’ quarterback depth chart, which contributed to his termination at the end of the season. Ultimately, Fields ascended to the starting lineup and flashed the playmaking upside that made him one of the most exciting prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Quarterbacks with lesser mental toughness may have crumbled under those challenging circumstances. Nagy’s disorganized playcalling and lack of offensive identity created roadblocks for Fields’ growth, but the former Ohio State star remains unfazed by his first trip through an NFL schedule.
“[There were] a lot of ups and downs, but I definitely learned a lot,” Fields said. “[I’m] thankful for all the experiences we had to go through. The stuff last year is just going to make me better, so of course I’m excited for Year 2.
“I have a lot more knowledge now. Going through a whole season, you learn a lot of things and you start incorporating things in your routine to make you a better football player.”
Part of Fields’ routine this offseason included syncing up with wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet to build chemistry for 2022. It’s the kind of work he didn’t have the benefit of putting in last year, and it should pay dividends when September rolls around. His leadership is already proving valuable in minicamp.
“He’s just soaking it in and taking command of the offense,” Head Coach Matt Eberflus said Tuesday. “He’s done a great job with that so far. I thought he did an excellent job today. He really did. He was in command of the offense, really every play that I saw. When you’re working with 11 guys, there was a mistake here and there by this person or that person. But, man, he had really good command today.”
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