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Chicago Bears voluntary minicamp: Top takeaways from Day 3 including Justin Fields' performance

Nicholas Moreano Avatar
April 22, 2022

LAKE FOREST — We know. Believe me, we do. 

It’s April 21 and the Bears just finished their third and final practice of voluntary minicamp at Halas Hall with an entirely new coaching staff.

We — the media — understand and see the frustration from fans on social media, but we have to report what happened. It’s our job. Even if the coverage is limited due to media policies.

On Thursday morning, with the sun shining and hardly any clouds in the sky, Justin Fields and the offense struggled during 7-on-7s, and the defense took full advantage.

There were 12 total plays in the session and Fields started it off by hitting his first three passes (although two of them went no further than five yards at the most). 

Then the offense went into a rough stretch. 

One pass was batted down. DeAndre Houston-Carson intercepted the next one, and the rest of the defensive players instinctively ran in front of Houston-Carson to clear a path. The third attempt would’ve been a coverage sack, and the last two passes fell incomplete to the intended receivers.

So, what does this all mean?

Absolutely nothing because it’s April and a voluntary minicamp. 

Next week, there will be new players on this Bears roster and potentially new passing targets for Fields. So, maybe those rough stretches turn into a single play and occur less frequently.

But it happened.

And these mistakes are expected to happen and quite frankly should with all the change the Bears have gone through in the past few months. After practice, coach Matt Eberflus addressed the team by telling them about the term “growth mindset.”

“That means that I’m going to learn from my performance, good, bad or indifferent,” Eberflus said. “I’m going to take one rep at a time and learn from that, what can I take away from that rep? So as you watch this tape, with your coaches, and as you watch it, you know, how can I grow and to get better, even if I throw a touchdown or I make a TFL (tackle for loss) or I make an interception or, or I get beat over the top for a touchdown. There’s learning that takes place in that performance. And we have to do a great job of learning through those performances. That’s how you get better. And that’s the new term growth mindset.”

Eddie Jackson ready for ‘clean slate

Eberflus just needed to take one look at Eddie Jackson to know he is ready to embrace this next opportunity in his career.  

“I think you can see it, I can see it in his attitude and his demeanor, I can see it in his eyes when I talk to him that he is energized, and he sees us as a fresh start for him,” Eberflus said. “I could see that in his practice, too. Just the way he’s carried himself. He’s been great in the meetings, and he’s been great on the practice field.”

Jackson is coming into his sixth season in the NFL with a “clean slate.”

The former fourth-round draft pick out of Alabama acknowledged that last year “was probably one of my worst seasons.”

“I gave up too many deep balls,” Jackson said. “Just trying to eliminate that. The little things with your eyes, breaking on the ball, attention to details. Little things, little fixes that you can make.”

Jackson still knows what kind of player he is capable of being and is “focused on learning the system” that is in place under defensive coordinator Alan Williams. For Jackson, who is the last player remaining on the roster from the 2017 draft class, he believes the scheme’s simplicity will allow him and the other defensive players to “see what’s in front of you and play.”

Mooney Looking To Prove Doubters Wrong

Down in Atlanta, Ga. earlier in the offseason, Darnell Mooney and Fields spent a week building their chemistry on and off the field.

“I was staying with him at the time, so just sit in the house whenever we were done working out, just talking, communicating about life and football and what we were like expecting throughout the season and the past season,” Mooney said.

It didn’t matter that they didn’t know the offensive scheme they were going to be in at the time. They just worked on building off a season in which Mooney caught 81 passes for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns.

But his individual accolades don’t change the fact that the Bears finished 30th in passing. However, Mooney is “looking forward to changing that extremely.”

With Mooney heading into his third season with the Bears, he has made it a focus to work on his conditioning, saying he wants “to be able to play six quarters.” He referenced how players like Antonio Brown always “runs in and out of the huddle” and how Cooper Kupp was heavily targeted on the final touchdown drive of the Super Bowl.

Mooney has also went back and watched some of Fields’ tape and the wide receivers from Ohio State to get a better idea of what works best for his quarterback.

“I would just watch how they would run it (certain plays) and how he was comfortable throwing the ball, it would be a perfect pass,” Mooney said. “I would just try to watch their highlight tapes or whatever. Just try to be in the best position, the same position.”

The Bears selected Mooney in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. Since he was selected three years ago, the former Tulane Green Wave has been working to gain one thing.

“Disrespected as a fifth-rounder when I was picked. … But at the end of the day, I will get my respect, and I’m going to keep going until I get my respect even when I do get my respect,” Mooney said.

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