Justin Fields

Justin Fields showing Bears crucial QB growth in two vital areas

The arrow is trending up for Justin Fields as the season speeds toward its conclusion

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The last time Justin Fields threw an interception, the Bears were 1-4, Tyson Bagent had yet to take a regular-season snap, and uttering the thought of Chicago making a late-season playoff push would have had you fit for a straight jacket.

It was Week 6, and Fields was still a quarter away from suffering a dislocated thumb and missing four games.

Since his return, Fields has thrown 93 straight passes without an interception. This is the first time in Fields' career that he has gone three consecutive games without throwing an interception. That increased ball security is a feather in Fields' cap as he pushes to prove he's the Bears' long-term answer under center.

But he knows he can still be better in that area.

"Just trying to make the best decisions I can," Fields said Wednesday at Halas Hall. "We preach no turnovers. I mean, yeah, just trying to do my job as the quarterback of this team, and of course, I have to continue with the no interceptions but also clean up the fumbles."

Fields has played highly efficient football since returning from the dislocated thumb in Week 11.

Fields has thrown for 609 yards and two touchdowns in his past three games while completing 66.6 percent of his passes. He has not thrown an interception but has fumbled three times. He lost two of those fumbles.

Fields is playing his best football at a time when his future in Chicago hangs in the balance.

Head coach Matt Eberflus has seen growth in several areas from the third-year signal-caller, none of which come as a surprise given the work Fields has put into elevating his game.

"The pocket presence is better. The rhythm and timing is better," Eberflus said Wednesday. "Him being able to, once he starts to create – before he exits – to look down the field. That’s been really good. Taking care of the football, in terms of interceptions, that’s been good as of late. A perfect game for a quarterback, like I said, is zero turnovers. That gives us a chance to win the game."

Pocket presence is something Fields and the Bears' offensive staff have been working to improve over the past two seasons.

One play during the Bears' 28-13 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday showed Eberflus that things are taking hold.

With the Bears facing a third-and-8 from their own 11-yard line, Fields dropped back and immediately felt pressure from his right and up the middle. Fields dodged the rushers while keeping his eyes downfield to probe for a big play. Once Fields was out of time, he bolted from the pocket and picked up 19 yards and a first down.

"The finish part of that helps him to be able to do that, to avoid the sack," Eberflus said of the play Monday at Halas Hall. "He’s done a really good job of late of looking down the field to be able to deliver some passes down the field, which is cool. The next dimension is what you’re talking about — the ability to escape. He’s so strong, and he’s got strong lowers, and he’s got great balance, as I say a lot of time with DJ [Moore]. He has that as well. He has the ability to put it on guys for 19 yards or, as you saw last year, even more than that. We’re excited about where he is with that, in terms of the first phase of that, looking downfield to complete the passes, and the second phase — when it’s not there in situational ball, to make it happen."

Fields has put the daily work in both on turf and in the film room to improve this area of his game.

But, to him, the improvement comes from experience.

"I think just learning from past mistakes," Fields said Wednesday. "I think that's the biggest thing. Where last year, at some points, I would just escape the pocket or just run for no reason. So I'm just trying to move in the pocket, feel out the pocket, and throw the ball downfield."

Fields' growth has been evident this season, and he has elevated his game since returning from injury. In a season filled with adversity and with a lot on the line, Fields has continued to improve because he never wavered in his daily approach.

"He’s been a true pro. He’s the same," Eberlfus said. "In this business, you got to be the same. You got to be the same guy every day. You’re going to have adversity. You have to anticipate that. You got to have a plan for that. What are you going to do when adversity strikes and you get knocked down? Because in this business, that’s going to happen. Then, what’s going to be your response? You don’t react to that. You already have a response planned for when that happens. He does a good job of having that mindset.”

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