LAKE FOREST — Training camp is right around the corner. 37 days to be exact.
And it’s just 83 days until the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field in Week 1.
While the Bears must still figure out a lot of things with their roster, the one thing that won’t change between now and then — barring an injury that I am unwilling to talk about — the 2023 season will be about the quarterback.
All together now, do the Bears finally have their answer at the most important position in football? We hope so, we think so, but we still need to find out and see it come together on the field and ultimately in the win column.
The Bears have asked an incredible amount of Justin Fields since trading up to draft him No. 11 oveall in 2021. First they had him play for an outgoing regime and head coach who schemed an offense for Andy Dalton. Then came a regime change that included a first-time head coach with a defensive background and an offensive coordinator who was also new to the role. That came with a diminished roster designed to create salary cap flexibility for the future.
Even more daunting perhaps, Fields was also asked to play an entirely different way. The Bears changed his footwork in 2022 and then asked him to get comfortable and find his way to success with little help around him.
“Last year was my first year doing it, so I was just trying to get the hang of it,” Fields said at Bears minicamp last week. “Of course I grew throughout the year. But this year, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with it, just timed up with the routes better.”
A lot more comfortable with it. That sounds pretty good but still a drop shy of “I have it down.”
To be the best quarterback that Fields can possibly be, he has to be playing instinctively not thinking about where his feet are planted.
“Our whole offense is tied with my feet,” Fields reiterated. “I’m just trying to use my feet as the clock in my head just to move from each route in the progression.”
Ryan Poles did his part in a busy offseason and focused on upgrading the offense: Darnell Wright, DJ Moore, Robert Tonyan, D’Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson and Tyler Scott should all have varying degrees of impact.
The pressure is now on Fields AND the coaching staff to use the new parts effectively. Having Fields as comfortable as possible on the field will go a long way to unlocking the potential of the new-look offense.
The good news is Fields and DJ Moore are off and running building instant chemistry.
“He’s (Moore) been in the league for a good period of time now,” Fields said. “He’s played a lot of football so he knows different coverages really well. That’s one thing that I was kind of impressed about, like, with the offense coming in and just understanding, seeing coverages really well on short routes and stuff like that. He’s been great.”
That’s a great start to the 2023 journey of finding out the forever elusive Bears quarterback question. Fields being on the same page with Moore should allow him to settle into his immense talents.
Will the rest come together? Only time will tell. Get ready for a familier 2023, the year of the QB.