Justin Fields

Justin Fields clarifies comments on Bears' coaching, places blame on himself for struggles

After giving a detailed answer on what's behind his struggles, Bears quarterback Justin Fields clarified his remarks and placed the blame on himself, not the coaches, for not playing better

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Bears quarterback Justin Fields was open and honest Wednesday at Halas Hall when asked about his early struggles and what happened in the Bears' 27-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2.

Fields said he felt he played "robotic" vs. the Bucs and wanted to get back to playing free and not thinking so much.

When asked why he felt he played "robotic," Fields gave a detailed answer about how much information the coaching staff gives him and how it's slowing him down.

“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.”

After Wednesday's practice, Fields called reporters over to his locker to clarify that he wasn't blaming the Bears' staff. It starts and stops with him.

“I’m not blaming anything on the coaches," Fields said. "I’m never going to blame anything on the coaches or my teammates. Whatever happens in the game, I will take everything. 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 detail. I appreciate you all for what you do.”

In his earlier press conference, Fields explained how the information overload has led to him not playing like himself. Fields said he is "a perfectionist," which has caused him to try and do things exactly how the staff wants at all times instead of playing how he has in the past.

Fields pointed to a strip sack against the Bucs as a moment where he didn't play instinctual football because he was trying to do things too perfectly instead of playing loose. The 24-year-old quarterback said his internal clock went off, and he should have gotten out and run. But he wanted to stay in the pocket to be on his coaching points, which led to him hanging in the pocket too long and getting sacked.

"Exactly. I’m leaving. I’m gone. Time clock, I’m gone out of the pocket," Fields said. "That’s why that happened because they wanted me to work on staying in the pocket during the offseason, which, there’s times where you do, but when that internal clock goes off, that’s when you need to get out and extend the play, make a play. So yeah, it’s just kind of like taking their coaching, and then there’s always going to be...you don’t always have to...it’s not going to work out perfectly every time. Yes, there’s times where I could have stayed in the pocket, but in that play specifically, I was in the pocket for a long time. I’ve got to extend the play, get out of the pocket, extend the play, and do something with it. Make something shake. That’s kind of what I’m talking about, though, in getting back into my game and becoming more of a football player than such a thinker on the field."

Fields also noted he does not believe offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and head coach Matt Eberflus are trying to force him to be something he's not. It's about working together in a partnership to find what works best for Fields and the offense.

“I think Luke knows I’m my own self, I’m my own person," Fields said. "I think it’s more me just making sure I don’t think about it as much as, like, ‘we want to do it a specific way.’ In the big scheme of things, I have to continue to be me and play the game how I play it. I think when sometimes I’m coached, I think that I’ve had times where I’m like, ‘OK, they want me to do it like this,’ so I have to kind of change it. It’s probably more of a me thing than a coach thing. When they tell me things, of course, I correct it.

"But in the grand scheme of things, I have to still be the person and the player [that] got me up to this point. Rather than changing my whole game, just implement it in my game and make those little corrections. But don’t allow that to change me as a whole player.”

Fields' initial comments and clarification aren't at odds with one another. He was open about why he is struggling the way he is through two games. He said that he has to play better and get back to being himself. He also said he talked with the staff about what he thinks needs to happen to allow him to play free and cut it loose.

The bottom line remains that Fields feels he has a sort of paralysis by analysis and isn't playing with the feel and instincts that got him to this point. He isn't playing well, but what he said Wednesday shows a young quarterback who doesn't believe that the team's offensive plan and priorities mesh well with what makes a special player.

Both Fields and the Bears have to work to change that.

Fields said Eberflus and Getsy were "receptive" to the discussion, and no one took it personally. Eberflus said the Bears want Fields to play free and be comfortable.

The 0-2 Bears travel to Kansas City to face the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday. That's where the Justin Fields of old plans to reemerge.

"My goal this week is just to say eff 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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