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Why Justin Fields’ Latest Practice Was His Most Encouraging

Why Justin Fields’ Latest Practice Was His Most Encouraging

Chicago Bears fans aren’t sure how to feel right now. They so desperately want to be excited about their football team. Yet it seems like everybody is telling them over and over again not to waste their breath. This team isn’t worth any optimism. Then again, if people have followed the steady progression of training camp, they’d realize that isn’t true. One person is improving daily, and it’s the most important person on the team. That’s Justin Fields.

The young quarterback has heard the knocks on him for months. People feel he isn’t processing things quickly enough. He’s holding the ball too long. His supporting cast is terrible. Everything will go wrong. All the while, Fields keeps grinding. If one monitored where he was when training camp began to right now, they’d realize he has improved significantly. According to insider Jordan Schultz, the coaching staff is blown away by how fast it is happening.

His latest practice on Wednesday was arguably his best to date.

Multiple reports had Fields hitting receivers deep several times. Several throws were of high difficulty, with defenders in close proximity. That isn’t what made it his best, though. It was who he was doing it with. Aside from Darnell Mooney, every other starting member of the Bears’ passing attack was out with injuries. Byron Pringle is out with a quad strain. Cole Kmet hurt his left shoulder or arm during Family Fest on Tuesday. Velus Jones Jr. also hasn’t practiced since last week. Yet that didn’t stop Fields. He kept moving the ball, making things happen with guys like Isaiah Coulter, Tajae Sharpe, and Nsimba Webster.

It’d be one thing if Fields were hitting wide open guys against third-string defenders. That isn’t the case. Most of his plays were made against Jaylon Johnson, Eddie Jackson, and other starters. A big part of his success was reading the coverages and getting the ball out fast. That is something people have waited for since camp began. It is a sign his comfort level in the offense is increasing.

Justin Fields is doing what good quarterbacks do.

That is to continue moving the ball even if the offense isn’t healthy. Look at the NFL’s top quarterbacks, who share this rare trait. They can adjust to their surroundings and string together completions, keeping drives alive and putting points on the board. It might not be as pretty as with a healthier offense, but it’s effective enough. It isn’t the first time Fields has done this in camp.

No, this doesn’t mean he is poised to light the NFL on fire this year. That is an unreasonable expectation. It does indicate he will be better. Efficiency will improve, positive plays will outnumber negative ones, and he’ll take a step in the right direction. Luke Getsy has put him in an offensive system tailor-made to his strengths as a runner and down-the-field passer.

Time is the biggest obstacle here.

Bears fans must be willing to stay patient. Justin Fields has the talent and work ethic to thrive in the NFL. It is about giving him the necessary time to master the new offense while the team builds a stronger supporting cast. It could be well worth the wait.

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