Justin Fields' composure, mechanics show QB ready to deliver in clutch

Fields' composure, mechanics show QB ready to deliver in clutch originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears' offense has been humming over the past month, averaging 31 points in the past four games. But that offensive success hasn't translated during the two-minute drill at the end of the games.

The Bears are now 0-for-4 on game-winning or game-tying drives with under three minutes to play. Each failed drive has a different story.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette fumbled away the Bears' chances in Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings. Darnell Mooney's bobbled catch on fourth-and-goal cost the Bears a win against the Washington Commanders in Week 6. The Bears' game-winning/tying drive attempt against the Miami Dolphins ended on an Equanimeous St. Brown drop, while the two-minute drill against the Detroit Lions in Week 10 never got out of the starting blocks.

The Bears have struggled in these late-game moments when defenses know they have to pass. But quarterback Justin Fields has not blinked while the operation around him has faltered. One play in particular from the final drive in the loss to the Lions tells the Bears that the big moment isn't impacting Fields.

"He’s been good," quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said of Fields' mechanics in the failed two-minute drills. "I think we had an unfortunate thing when in the game the other day, we had [tight end Cole Kmet] collide with the defensive back. I thought his mechanics were great. I thought he was on time. I thought he was ready to deliver a strike. At the last second, he saw it, tried to re-holster it, and it ended up being an incomplete pass. When you look at his mechanics right there, they were ready to win the game.

"I think it’s something that’s always being coached. I think it’s something that we are always talking about. Any quarterback – him – any quarterback in the league is looking at, how is your training dealing with under pressure? How is it dealing with when the moment gets bigger? You should resort to your most basic fundamentals. I haven’t seen anything change. I think that one play demonstrates he was playing within himself, playing within the offense and ready to go."

Execution has been the Bears' problem when all the chips are on the table. The pass protection has been spotty, and the receivers haven't been able to consistently win to help Fields out when he is under duress.

Despite the failures, the Bears are confident they are close to succeeding in these situations. Finding a way to get over that hump and complete a game-winning drive will be a huge confidence boost for all involved.

Not that Fields needs it. His demeanor gives the Bears ultimate belief every time they huddle up with the game hanging in the balance.

"He's just ready for the moment," Mooney said of Fields. "It's the same as the first play of the game. He keeps us calm. Nobody is ever overreacting. Everyone is just chill."

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Janocko spends as much time with Fields as anyone. The second-year quarterback is always asking the quarterbacks coach to go over more film so he can be as prepared as possible on Sunday.

Janocko, head coach Matt Eberflus, and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy have stayed consistent in their messaging surrounding Fields' development this season. It's about making daily progress, listening to coaching points, and following the process.

All that remains true. But as it pertains to do-or-die drives, Fields has shown them he's ready to deliver.

"We’re always stressing our technique," Janocko said. "We’re always talking about in big moments, heightened awareness. Heightened awareness but no anxiety. I mean, spend five minutes around the kid, and you know he’s – can I quote Stewart Scott? – he’s cool as the other side of the pillow. I don’t see any difference. I see him Play 1 and Play 61. That’s him.

"He’s a warrior and he’s ready to go win the game.”

To Fields, there's a simple fix to the Bears' late-game offensive issues.

"Just finish," Fields said Sunday after the loss to the Lions. "We're putting up 30 points a game. Just finish when we get those late-game drives."

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