September 18, 2021


Hub Arkush: Early signs show patience is needed with Justin Fields

The Bears kicked off the second week of training camp Monday at Halas Hall and then put on pads for the first time and took their show on the road to Soldier Field Tuesday for their annual Family Fest.

There were fans in the stands for the first time in more than 22 months, almost every one of them focused on their first look at first-round draft choice Justin Fields, looking for any sign on how early in the regular season we could see him under center.

That’s noteworthy because the excitement around the team has been palpable ever since they traded up to take Fields, but no matter how many times head coach Matt Nagy and general Ryan Pace try and convince fans patience is a virtue, it seems all anyone can ask and talk about is how soon are we going to see Fields as the Bears starting quarterback.

Nagy and company keep trying to tell us to slow our roll on this topic.

Nagy was asked Monday what he’s seen so far from Fields to suggest he might be ready sooner rather than later.

“Nothing really until we get to the preseason when it’s real,” Nagy said. “You know what I’m saying? We have the halo, so you can’t get near the quarterback right now. But in the preseason it’s real. So when we get to the preseason and we watch, that’s where I think we’re all going to be able to see truly where he’s at.”

Fields also shared his view on the situation.

“Yeah, I’m constantly growing every day, but I think I said it in my last interview, greatness doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “It’s a process. Like I said before, I’m just trying to take it day by day.”

Fans shouldn’t mistake Fields wanting to take things day-by-day as a lack of urgency to claim the starting job, he’s just being real.

What is Nagy hoping to see before he hands the job to the rookie?

“Just run the offense, that’s it. It’s real simple,” he said, “All the other stuff, the flashy plays, anything that happens bad, we’ll analyze that, we’ll critique him. But how are you running the system? Are you making plays? And are you being a leader?”

So basically Nagy is saying all he has to do is play football and look like he knows what he doing, and more specifically command the huddle.

But Fields has many challenges.

“I would say the hardest thing is just literally saying the play in the huddle,” Fields said. “In college we got the play from the sidelines, and we would get signals. Some of our play calls are longer than others.”

A starting QB still learning to call the plays feels like a bit of a stretch, doesn’t it?

“Now, it’s going to be going through his progressions post-snap,” Nagy said. “Things change, right, disguised coverages? They hide their blitzes.

“Knowing where your protection calls are, being on the same page as the center. That’s where I think now when things get real and you start putting the pads on and the tempo picks up and you’re playing, now we want to see him execute plays and play fast. “That’s probably the biggest thing.”

Another issue is that while Nagy wants his QBs to be aggressive, Fields currently might be too aggressive.

“We were actually talking about it with the staff the other day, making sure that depending on what the defense gives you coverage-wise, if it’s not there, don’t force it,” Nagy said. ”It’s not a game where it’s just one person, so you’ve got to make sure everything is in sync, and that’s where he’s got to be the leader when he’s in there with that group and make sure that everybody’s doing the right stuff.”

Just for good measure Fields kicks in one his coach forgot.

“I mean at Ohio State we probably had three cadences max,” Fields said. “But we have a variety of cadences here. So just knowing the cadences and just knowing what situations to use them in...”

Like I’ve been saying, we all want to see Fields end the Bears’ decades long quarterback nightmare, and we may all be virtuous, but you better be patient because this is going to take a while.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media