LAKE FOREST, Ill. — As it is almost every year, the focus for the Bears starts with the man under center – and it’s a big year for him.
After showing progress in his second year in the NFL, Justin Fields now faces a 2023 season where he’ll have a collection of new players in his second season in coordinator Luke Getsy’s offensive scheme.
It’s also a year with some pressure, as his contract moving forward with the Bears has a lot weighing on the upcoming 17 games.
So it’s safe to say all eyes will be on Fields as the Bears open the 2023 regular season against the Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday at 3:25 p.m.
“I’m ready, ready to go,” said Fields at his news conference ahead of the Week 1 match-up with Green Bay and their new quarterback, Jordan Love.
As he’s prepared to start the season, Fields believes the offense is in a position to improve from 2022, where they were 23rd in points (19.2 per game) 28th in total yards (307.8 per game).
“Just our mindset,” said Fields when asked what he’s seen from the offense to indicate that they can take a step forward in 2023. “How we come in every day, creating that championship mindset, what we’re going to do, competitive greatness. Little stuff like that.”
Fields comes into the season with two preseason games of work under his belt this past August. It comes after a second season where he showed growth, especially when it came to his ability to rush the football.
He gained a Bears quarterback record 1,143 yards in 15 games, averaging 7.1 yards per carry with eight touchdowns. Many hope he can complement that with growth in the passing game after completing 60.4 percent of his passes for 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions.
“I feel comfortable as far as everything goes with footwork and stuff like that, just working hard, doing what I do day in and day out and, like I said, just getting better each and every day,” said Fields when asked about his offseason work to improve the passing part of his game. “Whatever the defense presents, whichever way they’re going to allow us to beat them, that’s what we’re going to do.
“Whatever I have to do for this team to win, that’s what I’m going to do, and just go about it like that.”
General manager Ryan Poles has given him more to work with this year with reinforcements on the offensive line (guard Nate Davis, tackle & first round pick Darnell Wright) along with big play wide receiver D.J. Moore.
Robert Tonyan along with veteran Marcedes Lewis add depth to a tight end room that includes Cole Kmet, who got a contract extension during training camp.
All figure to add to Fields along with the offense’s ability to take a step forward this season.
“I think so,” said Fields when asked about the additions adding confidence to the offense. “We have a lot of great players around us, but at the end of the day, no matter who is on the field, you have to go out there and execute, go out there and do your job.
“Everybody has to do it. It’s going to take all 11, and as long as we do that, we’ll be in good shape.”
The time to prove that has arrived for this offense and the man who’ll lead it this fall.