Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields believes his team has a lot of work to do before it is ready for the start of the 2022 NFL season.
Speaking to reporters at mandatory minicamp Tuesday, Fields provided an honest answer when asked if he believes the Bears would be ready for the season to start right now:
"Uh, no. I'm not ready for the season to start. I'm the type of guy that would like to know I'm prepared. So, right now, I'm just being honest. We're not ready to play a game right now. And when that time comes, we will be ready. So, right now, no—not ready to play a game."
The Bears have experienced a great deal of turnover on both sides of the ball from a team that went 6-11 last season, plus they have a new head coach in Matt Eberflus, who replaced Matt Nagy.
This season will also mark Fields' first full campaign as the Bears' starting quarterback after he started 10 games as a rookie in 2021.
After deciding to move on from 2017 No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears invested in a new face of the franchise by taking Fields with the 11th overall pick last year.
Fields began as a backup to Andy Dalton, but he eventually took over and went 2-8 as a starter.
The former Ohio State standout appeared in 12 games overall and completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions while also rushing for 420 yards and two scores.
Although the overall numbers weren't great, Fields didn't get a ton of help from those around him, including his offensive line, which allowed him to get sacked 36 times, nine of which came during a September loss to the Cleveland Browns.
In addition to a new coach, several changes have been made since last season, with wide receiver Allen Robinson, tight end Jimmy Graham, offensive lineman James Daniels, pass-rusher Khalil Mack and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks all departing the team.
Now the Bears are trying to integrate new arrivals through free agency and the draft, including wide receivers Byron Pringle and Velus Jones, who figure to be two of Fields' top targets this season along with returning wideout Darnell Mooney, tight end Cole Kmet and running back David Montgomery.
The Bears are clearly a team in transition, and there may be some major growing pains along the way, which is why Chicago is widely expected to be among the NFL's worst teams in 2022.
Even so, Fields is committed to preparation and doing whatever he can to ensure his team is at least competitive this season even if it doesn't win games regularly.