Bears Rumors: Justin Fields' Command of Offense 'Improving Every Single Day'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 14, 2021

LAKE FOREST, IL - AUGUST 12: Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) handles the football in action during a joint practice session between the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins on August 12, 2021 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have reportedly been happy with rookie quarterback Justin Fields' progression throughout training camp and they hope that translates to game action during Saturday's preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins.

"I'm told the Bears feel that Fields' command of the offense is improving every single day," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported on SportsCenter. "They know he can make the athletic play, the spectacular play. They want to see tonight, him mastering the nuances of their offense."

Chicago head coach Matt Nagy confirmed Thursday the plan is for Fields to see quite a bit of action in his first NFL game. Projected starter Andy Dalton will handle the first drive or two followed by the Ohio State product for potentially upward of two quarters.

"I would say that for Justin, [he'll play] for sure past halftime," Nagy told reporters. "I hate to say that anything is 100 percent, but the mindset going into it is he's going to get a lot of reps. Does that take him into the fourth quarter? Maybe. Who knows? We'll see. But the more reps we can get him right now, the better. It's only going to help him."

Fields has drawn rave reviews throughout training camp for his ability to make something out of nothing, but it's the play-to-play consistency that tends to take a little longer to develop. It's the same learning curve the Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen, the No. 7 pick in 2018, faced early in his NFL career, and he just signed a massive six-year, $258 million extension.

It'll be intriguing to see how Fields, the No. 11 choice in this year's draft, will begin the process of trying to read and break down NFL defenses on the fly for the first time in game conditions Saturday.

Like Allen, the 22-year-old Georgia native has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, including the arm strength to make any throw and an ability to pick up key first downs with his legs. Maximizing that raw talent can take a couple of years, though.

Bears tight end Jimmy Graham sees another similarly styled dual-threat quarterback when he works alongside Fields: former Seattle Seahawks teammate Russell Wilson.

"I've got to get him matched up at some point with a guy up there in Seattle," Graham told reporters. "Especially, you know, the ability to make plays while you're running, I think he's going to have—it's been impressive to see him so young, so focused. And I can tell [you] it definitely reminds me a lot of Russell Wilson."

That's high praise for Fields, but it's not unwarranted after he tallied 78 total touchdowns (63 passing and 15 rushing) in 22 games across two years as the Buckeyes' starter.

Giving the two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection ample playing time throughout the three-game preseason slate should give the Bears a strong indication of how quickly he'll be ready to take over the offense.

Dalton, who owns an 87.5 career passer rating and ranked 25th in ESPN's Total QBR while playing with the Dallas Cowboys last season, is a solid short-term option but won't prevent Chicago from handing the keys over to the rookie once they feel he's ready.

After Saturday's clash with the Dolphins, the Bears face the Bills next Saturday and then wrap up the exhibition schedule Aug. 28 against the Tennessee Titans. They kick off the regular season Sept. 12 when they visit the Los Angeles Rams.