LAKE FOREST – From the moment he took the field for the first time in Week 1 against the Rams, the lessons began.
The “class” is NFL football and it started with just five plays in the opening game and then expanded to a half in his second. Since Week 3, he’s had four 60-minute lessons on what it means to be a professional quarterback.
It’s on that Justin Fields has embraced as he’s now fully taken over the Bears’ quarterback job as his rookie season progresses. Naturally, there have been plenty of ups and downs, with a few more defeats than he was used to when at Ohio State.
To put it in perspective, Fields has already played in more losses in six weeks with the Bears (3) than he did while quarterbacking the Buckeyes to back-to-back College Football Playoff appearances (20-2).
“You have not necessarily accept the fact, but it’s a different ballgame now. We’re not in the Big Ten where Ohio State is most likely more talented than most of the teams we play. It’s the NFL now, so it’s a longer season,” said Fields when asked about dealing with losing after having success with the Buckeyes. “So you just have to bounce back, you get knocked down, you’ve just got to keep coming back. So as long as we do that, we’ll be good, and like I said before, we’ll continue to grow.”
One big lesson that Fields has found out over the past few weeks is the importance of consistent offensive drives, which have been spotty for the Bears so far in 2021. For instance, the Bears had a strong scoring march to start the game against the Packers last Sunday and had another in the fourth quarter, each which led to touchdowns.
But in between were inconsistent marches that either never materialized at all or finished in a turnover. It kept the team for keeping up with the Packers in a 24-14 loss that dropped them to 3-3 on the season and opened Fields’ eyes to a key change from the professional to the college game.
“Putting plays together rather than a good play happening and then a bad play. Putting all those plays together rather than just having good plays here and there,” said Fields. “That’s one big difference that I’m starting to find out is you have to put drives together rather than just have a good play here, have a good play there. Because if you have a bad play in college, it’s easy to get the yardage that you just lost the next play where in the NFL, it’s not as easy.
“Just putting good plays together back-to-back and just creating more drives that create more momentum and get us more into rhythm.”
An example was right in front of Fields on Sunday as Aaron Rodgers helped the Packers defeat his Bears by putting together four steady scoring drives. It’s been a trademark of the quarterback’s 17-year career that will likely land him in Hall of Fame once he retires.
“That’s one thing I took away from last week was just, like I said before, the drives that you have to put together to consistently score. You have to put together a lot of plays on a good drive to score,” said Fields. “Like I said before, you just can’t be two, three good plays on a drive, you have to put together consistently positive plays to get down the field and, of course, at least get points.
“That’s one thing I caught last game and really just I learned from last game is if it’s a bad play, don’t make it worse. Sometimes, of course, I’m going to try and extend plays but, you know, it’s it not there, get rid of the ball and move onto the next play.”
He’ll have plenty of time to put these lessons to work as he has 11 lessons left in his first NFL class in 2021.