LAKE FOREST — Justin Fields’ best moment of the 2022 season happened in a torrential downpour.
With San Francisco heavily favored, Fields and the Bears upset the 49ers, 19-10, at Soldier Field to begin the season 1-0.
Fields said playing in that game felt like he was in a movie, but it was also one of only three victories the Bears had this season. And for his third year in the NFL, that is arguably the most important result that Fields wants more of in 2023.
For general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus to help the Bears organization secure more wins next season, Fields must be the catalyst.
On the field, the 23-year-old quarterback did what he could with constant dysfunction due to inconsistency on the offensive line and in the wide receiver room. Still, Fields passed for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and ran for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns.
Even though the Bears finished last in the NFL in passing yards (2,219), Fields is still optimistic about what his offense can do next season. He points to the stretch in late October through mid-November.
“Just the fact that we were putting up 30-plus points for like four or five weeks,” Fields said. “We know what we can do as an offense and what we can accomplish. The fact that this was everybody’s first year in the offense and we were doing that, you know, Luke’s first year as an OC, that gives us a lot of hope, a lot of optimism for the future, for sure.”
That optimism is also felt by defensive lineman Justin Jones. The 2022 season was only his first year with Fields, but he knows he is in a good situation moving forward.
“I think it’s gonna be good. We just laid the foundation, so it’s tough right now, but at the end of the day, we’re gonna get some pieces in here,” Jones said. “We’re gonna get some good guys in here, man. We’re gonna do it crazy. We have a lot of good talent here already and we’ve got a lot of good talent we’re gonna build on. Justin Fields, having a quarterback like that, having your franchise quarterback like that? A lot of people are still looking for theirs. We found ours. That’s No. 1 right there already.”
And Fields feels like he has grown this season with his “overall understanding” of Luke Getsy’s offense, which should give the young quarterback an advantage going into Year 3. Instead of just focusing on learning the offense, Fields can transition to actually understanding the offense, which he said started to happen around midseason.
Fields is going to do everything he can to improve his game, but Poles and Eberflus still need to fill out this roster with talent – something Fields is open to helping with this offseason.
“I mean, I know Ryan has a great understanding of what needs to be done around here, what holes we might need to fill and stuff like that,” Fields said. “That’s not my job to control any of that. Whatever he needs me to do in terms of recruiting, I’m sure we’re going to have that conversation here in a bit. So, whatever he’s going to do, I fully trust him. His goal is to make the best team he can for us. I know he’s going to do a great job of that. We’re going to get better and work in the offseason. So, yeah.”
Obviously, the Bears organization has the No. 1 overall pick and the most cap space going into next season, but arguably the team’s greatest asset for attracting free agents is Fields.
Fields may be only going into his third season in the NFL, but he carries himself like a veteran. He wants to be successful and change the way the Bears are perceived around the league.
Quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said last week that Fields “wants this to be his franchise, want this to be his city.” And Fields already believes he is making that happen.
“I feel like it’s already mine,” Fields said. “The guys in here, they know how hard I work. They know what I want to accomplish and just my mindset overall. Really just trying to get guys on the same page, that mindset that culture to where no matter what we go through nothing can phase us, having that swagger, having that confidence going into every game like they have to play us, they have to beat us, so just have that mindset going into every game, we’ll be fine.”