Justin Fields feels the love from teammates with QB decision looming

Justin Fields feels the love from teammates with QB decision looming originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

NFL players almost always publicly praise their quarterbacks. It’s incredibly rare when teammates throw each other under the bus, and even more rare when it comes to the signal caller.

But not all public support is equal. There’s a difference between a player saying, “I trust in our quarterback,” quickly and concisely. You can tell when there’s something in their eyes that contradicts their mouth.

That’s not the case with the Bears. When the Bears talk about Justin Fields they’re effusive.

“‘You are a magician,’ those were my exact words to him,” said Eddie Jackson after the team’s 37-17 win over the Falcons.

“He’s dynamic, very dynamic,” said Montez Sweat. “You see he makes plays like the Lamar Jacksons, the Patrick Mahomes and guys don’t really hype it up like they would with other quarterbacks. But he is one of them and I’m glad he’s on my side.”

Fields’ coaches don’t give the canned “he’s improving across the board,” or “he’s right on track with his development,” answers that we hear so often. They’re detailed in the ways they’ve seen Fields improve that makes the praise more sincere.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of growth,” said offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. “Just in this season alone, how far along he’s come taking care of the football, being in control of the game. I think that’s been the coolest part since he’s come back. I just feel like he’s in control when he’s out there. That’s been a lot of fun to see. -LG

“His ability to progress (through reads) is better. His footwork is better. The protection part of it is outstanding. The completion percentage part of it is good. He’s throwing the ball accurately. The extended-play part of it has been a lot of fun to see him progress through that. So there’s been a lot of areas. I’m leaving other stuff out. But I think there’s been a lot of really cool stuff that Justin has grown through this year.”

Some players are so impressed with Fields that they wonder why we’re asking about his future at all.

"I've said it before I'm going to keep saying it: What makes him not the quarterback?” said DJ Moore.

For Moore, Fields’ “Houdini act” when he evaded three different pass rushers to scramble for a first down should’ve ended any debate about his capability leading the offense moving forward.

“He's not a running back,” Moore said. “He is him… I want him to be the quarterback."

Of course a big debate about whether or not the Bears should move forward with Fields is coming, no matter if he balls out in Week 18 and sinks Green Bay’s postseason dreams or if he stumbles in the regular season finale and the Packers beat the Bears for the 10th time in a row. The Bears secured the No. 1 overall pick in the draft last Sunday, so they’ll have the opportunity to select either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. Both incoming QBs are more highly-touted prospects than Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud who were at the top of last year’s draft. The Bears will have to do their due diligence in scouting Williams and Maye, then determining if they want to stick with Fields or not.

Knowing that, the players have made it clear that Fields is their guy. Fields spoke on that support on Wednesday and pointed to it as a sign that the entire team is building tight bonds.

“I think that just shows how much we love each other, not only as players but as people outside of the building,” said Fields. “We’ve been around a lot of guys in the past on different teams and stuff like that, you can kind of tell when people really love the game and really are passionate about the game of football. I would say all the guys in the locker room are. When you just see their work ethic, how much they care about the game, how much they care about the team and winning, the team’s success, that just all brings us closer together and focusing on accomplishing one goal as a team.”

Fields credited those tight-knit feelings to head coach Matt Eberflus making the team break off into small groups at the beginning of the year. He got players from different sides of the ball and different position groups together to talk about things other than football.

“When you know a guy’s story, when you know where he came from, you get to connect on a deeper personal level, which causes you to have that connection closer,” Fields said. “When you know a guy for who he is away from the game, that’s when you really get to connect with your teammates and really start to grow as a team.”

The Bears are clearly headed in the right direction after finishing 2022 with a league-worst 3-13 record and starting 2023 with four straight losses. They’ve established that they are no longer NFL basement dwellers. With a win they could position themselves to be the Detroit Lions of 2024. Of course, the upcoming quarterback decision will have massive ramifications on whether or not the Bears can realize that potential.

The front office shouldn’t base their entire evaluation on whether or not the locker room supports Fields. Picking a QB isn’t a popularity contest. But a QB does need to command a huddle and instill confidence in his teammates. There’s no doubt Fields still does that, and his teammates’ support shouldn’t be ignored, either.

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