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LAKE FOREST — Justin Fields wants to play his game, and he let everyone know about it.
Through the first two games of the 2023 regular season, Fields has said he felt “conservative” after the Packers game and during Wednesday’s press conference, he mentioned the word “robotic” and just thinking too much.
The 24-year-old quarterback was asked why he felt that way.
“You know, could be coaching I think,” Fields said. “At the end of the day, they are doing their job when they are giving me what to look at, but at the end of the day, I can’t be thinking about that when the game comes. I prepare myself throughout the week and then when the game comes, it’s time to play free at that point. Thinking less and playing more.”
Following practice, Fields addressed the media to clarify his comments.
“I’m not blaming anything on the coaches. I’m never going to blame anything on the coaches. Never going to blame anything on my teammates. I will take every, whatever happen in the game … I will take all the blame. I don’t care if it’s a dropped pass, it should have been a pass. It’s on me. Put it on me. Never will you hear anything come out of my mouth to where I will blame it on someone else, this organization, my teammates, never will you hear that. Just wanted to clear that up. I need to play better. That’s what I should have said in the first place. I was trying to give details. I appreciate you all for what you do.”
Fields has expressed he wants to play more freely with his coaches, and said the staff “of course” have been receptive to his feedback. Coach Matt Eberflus agrees playing freely is the goal they want for their quarterback.
“Obviously you know and if he’s feeling that way, then yes,” Eberflus said. “I think that a player needs to feel free, he needs to have the flow of the game, he needs to use his instincts. That’s what you want from players. You have any players like that, if it’s a receiver, linebacker, defensive line, those guys, you’ve gotta play free. The guys were brought here to play that way. We want to see them. We want to see those in-the-game situations. Certainly as a quarterback you’ve got to go through your progressions, but there’s also instincts that are involved in that and we want him to have that flow and have that freedom to do those things.”
For Fields to get that flow and comfortability, it will take the quarterback, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and the rest of the coaching staff to, at the very least, meet in the middle and work together to make that happen.
“I would say that it’s a partnership,” Eberflus said. “So when he’s successful we put him in position. When he’s struggling, guess what? We didn’t do a good enough job. You know, so we all take ownership of that. We all take accountability for that. That’s what the partnership is. Right? There’s going to be no this or that or the other thing. We’re going to have honest conversations and when the player is doing what he’s supposed to be doing and playing free then it’s good, right? And if it needs to be corrected or moved, then guess what? Then we all need to do that together.”
Even though Fields did mention the coaching, he said that he needs to play better. One of the plays Fields wanted to have back was the strip sack he took in the second quarter. The coaching staff made it an emphasis this offseason for Fields to hang in the pocket longer, but he stayed far too long on that third-down play and knows he should’ve just took off.
Fields also mentioned that nobody will take what is being said personally, especially since everyone is working towards the same goal. Sunday afternoon in Kansas City will be telling to see how much the coaching staff is willing to cater to Fields’ strenghts.
Regardless of what the coaches do though, Fields intends to be himself in the Week 3 matchup with the Chiefs.
“My goal this week is just to say f it and go out there and play football how I know to play football,” Fields said. “That includes thinking less and just going out there and playing off of instincts rather than so much say info in my head, data in my head. Just literally going out there and playing football. Going back to it’s a game and that’s it. That’s when I play my best, when I’m just out there playing free and being myself, so I’m going to say kind of bump all the what I should, this and that, pocket stuff. I’m going to go out there and be me.”
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