LAKE FOREST – The music blared as Bears players formed stretching lines ahead of practice. Kendrick Lamar’s voice boomed through the speakers loud and clear: “We gon’ be alright.”
The song choice – Lamar’s Grammy-winning hit “Alright” – didn’t seem unintentional.
The Bears are trying to get back to football. They had a week at a Halas Hall. Wednesday, in particular, was one of the strangest days at Bears headquarters in a while.
To recap: first, starting quarterback Justin Fields gave an honest assessment of his play and the coaching, an assessment that some viewed as critical. Then, head coach Matt Eberflus announced starting left tackle Braxton Jones was going on injured reserve. Eberflus declined to say if Alan Williams remained the team’s defensive coordinator. Several hours later, Fields gathered reporters again and said his comments were taken out of context. Then the team announced Williams had resigned due to a health matter. To top it all off, the team briefly cut backup quarterback Nathan Peterman, then re-signed him a day later.
Wednesday was a day.
So on Thursday, when the opening lyrics of “Alright” by Lamar started – “Alls my life I has to fight” – the Bears were making a point. Or at least trying to will it into existence. It’s time for this 0-2 football team to start fighting. They might be alright, although a matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs this week isn’t exactly a prototypical “get right” game.
Fields and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy also made a show of hugging it out for the TV cameras at practice that day.
Fields claimed that his comments about the scheme and the coaching staff were taken out of context, but the fact is he said what he said and he did it without much prompting. The question that began the discussion was simply: “What did you see on tape from the Bucs game.”
Fields answered by stating that he looked “robotic” and “not like myself.”
“My goal this week is just to say [expletive] it and go out there and play football how I know to play football,” Fields said. “That includes thinking less and just going out there and playing off of instincts rather than so much, say, info in my head, data in my head.”
That answer led to some obvious follow up questions, like why is there so much info in his head? Why was he playing robotic?
Fields gave his honest answers. He clearly didn’t expect it to rile up social media or to vault him into the discussion on ESPN on Wednesday. Fields said his piece, went out to practice for two hours, came back inside and saw his comments all over the sports news cycle.
Receiver Darnell Mooney, one of Fields’ best friends on the team, said he saw his quarterback simply being open and comfortable with members of the media. Fields took issue with the way his words were chopped up, particularly with his comment that “coaching” could be making him think too much on the field.
“[He was] just a little frustrated with how it all turned and that’s not how he was trying to put it out there,” Mooney said.
[Fields was] just a little frustrated with how it all turned and that’s not how he was trying to put it out there.”— Darnell Mooney, Bears wide receiver
Mooney noted that Fields’ original comments were “just how he felt.” Receiver DJ Moore shared that sentiment.
“He might have been speaking his mind,” Moore said. “I don’t know, but at the end of the day, we still got a job to do from the top down from the coaches to us. We ain’t robots.”
There is some truth to what Fields was saying. Fields, Eberflus and Getsy all noted that this week. Rest assured that discussions about how to fix this offense are happening at Halas Hall.
“I had Justin come up to my office, we talked and visited a little bit for five minutes before the [quarterback meeting], and everything was good,” Eberflus said Friday. “So, just put everything on the table, talk about it, see where it is.”
General manager Ryan Poles even addressed the media this week and said that the Bears don’t see Fields as a finger pointer.
So then the question becomes, what will this look like Sunday. It would be a surprise if the Bears didn’t change something up this week. The game plans they ran in Weeks 1 and 2 did not work. If this truly is the collaboration Eberflus believes it to be, something will look different against the Chiefs.
“[Fields] wants to stay within the means of the play and what his technique is, but he also wants to play his best game as himself,” Mooney said. “That’s what he did to get here and that’s what he’s going to continue to do. He also wants to take a step forward. If that’s listening to some other people and taking some advice from other people, and taking what he has and putting it away or bringing it back out. It’s all a work in progress.”