LAKE FOREST – Fans had visions of what he might be able to do from the minute they announced his name with the Chicago Bears logo back in April. A lot of those came to pass over the course of two quarters on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field.
From his running to his passing, his ability to shake off a shaky start to lead three-straight scoring drives, Justin Fields was everything the Bears and their fans hoped he’d be.
He led a field goal drive with under a minute to go in the first half to get the Bears on the board against the Dolphins, then ran in a touchdown in the first drive of the third quarter. On the next one, he threw to Jesse James for another touchdown that put his team ahead for good in a 20-13 victory.
He was 14-of-20 through the air for 142 yards while rushing for 33 yards on five carries, scoring in each facet of the game.
“I was as calm as I could be today. I was trying to take it play-by-play and win every play,” said Fields of his mindset during his first preseason game. “I think when you focus on the moment, of course, our whole point this week is focus on today, focus on the moment.
“I was trying to take it play-by-play and that’s what I was telling the O-Line, take every play, play-by-play, don’t worry about the next play. Worry about this play and we’ll keep stacking like that.”
While Fields was keeping things simple, already the calls resumed to have the rookie quarterback pass veteran Andy Dalton on the depth chart and become the Bears’ top signal caller. But head coach Matt Nagy shot down that possibility at his Monday news conference at Halas Hall, saying the team’s plan hasn’t changed.
“We all want him to play really well, that’s a good thing is for him to go out and play well,” said Nagy. “At the same point and time, we knew going into this that, in this situation, that anytime there’s something that goes wrong for a guy like Andy in this situation, that’s gonna be there and Justin’s playing well.
“But this is something that we’ve planned for and prepared for….and again, Justin understands all of this, and that’s what I love about him, is he understands the plan, he understands the process, they all do. We asked him to go out and play well on gameday live, and he did.”
Nagy did say that Fields would receiver more opportunities to work with some members of the top offense along with getting plays against the Bears’ top defense. He said it’s all part of the process to help get the rookie quarterback acclimated to the NFL, and similar to his sentiments since joined the team, Fields remains bough in to the plan.
“To be honest we are not worried what the outside has to say. We are worried about our team and getting better every day. We are not worried about outside voices, who wants who,” said Fields when asked about outside calls for him to start right away. Andy and Nick are going to do what’s best for the team and we are all going to do what’s best for the team and keep working and all keep getting better.
“Of course, there’s outside voices but you can’t pay attention to that because I mean those voices don’t know what’s going on inside the building and of course me, Andy and Nick we all have a great relationship and of course those guys have taught me a lot from up to this point. So I’m going to keep learning from them and keep getting better.”
It’s worked for him so far in his still very young Bears’ career that many can’t wait to watch play out.