Fields' indescribable comfort best development of Year 2 rise


LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Justin Fields isn't the same quarterback he was when the Bears' season began. The 23-year-old signal-caller and the Bears' staff have seen tangible improvement in all areas from Week 1 through Week 13.

Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy doesn't have a gauge for how much Fields has grown. He attributes the second-year quarterback's rise to the amount of work he has put in on the practice field and in the film room. He also believes that getting to know each other better has allowed the Bears' offense to find a rhythm after its early struggles.

Ask Fields where he believes he's grown the most, and he lights up before noting it's not something anyone can see on Sundays. It's a feeling he has now, a calmness he didn't have when the season began.

“I just can’t describe it," Fields said Thursday. "Just a certain way of like, you got to kind of feel the flow of the game. It’s hard to explain it, but once you feel it, I don’t know. I’ll try to put up some words at home and maybe explain it to y’all one day. But it’s kind of just like a feel to where you are just sitting back there and you are just comfortable with the game and with the offense and how the game is going.”

If you're thinking that wave of tranquility washed over Fields at once at Gillette Stadium before the Bears hammered the New England Patriots and his Year 2 ascent began, you're wrong.

There has been no lightbulb moment for Fields. It has been a steady build, one that has him feeling more confident with each Sunday that arrives.

“I think it’s just like a little by little, bit by bit, more by more every game," Fields said. "Last game was like more than I have felt it before and hopefully it’s the same way this week. You just kind of have that feeling in the game, just get in a rhythm and get it going from there."

Efficiency analytics back up that Fields' rise has been a steady climb since Week 7.

From Weeks 7-14, Fields ranks seventh in the NFL in EPA (expected points added) per play, sixth in success rate, fourth in Completion Percentage Over Expectation, and fifth in the EPA+COE composite. He only trails Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, and Joe Burrow as the most efficient quarterback in the NFL over that period.

Finding this comfort on Sundays, whether it's a product of experience, knowledge, or something else entirely, has Fields in a different space on gamedays than when the season began. As that ease has grown, Fields makes sure to find his way back to that plane each week.

It has helped spur him to a record-breaking rushing performance against the Miami Dolphins and was undoubtedly a factor in what he described as his most comfortable game as a passer in the Bears' Week 13 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

"It makes it easier on me, but you kind of just have to get in that same mindset, kind of just retrace that feeling and that inner whatever it is and just get back to wherever you were," Fields said. "Like I’m going to try to get back to it to where I was last week and how I felt in that game and my calmness and just how I felt in the game. Just trying to get back to that point."

This is the confidence of a young quarterback who has found his footing in the NFL and cemented himself as the face of a franchise that has long searched for a savior behind center. It's a calmness of a playmaker who is 95 rushing yards away from joining Lamar Jackson and Michael Vick as the only quarterbacks to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

The Bears have preached the process with Fields from the moment head coach Matt Eberflus and Getsy entered the building. The benchmarks for him have not been giant stepping stones but daily, incremental moments that lead to something bigger.

All that work has led to Sunday's matchup that will see a confident Fields eager to face the 12-1 Philadelphia Eagles.

"I’m excited to see what we can do as a team," Fields said. "These guys, like you said, they’re labeled as one of the best teams in the league so any chance you get to go up against a team like this, the Buffalo Bills next week, it’s awesome just to see what we can do now and then of course, you know just to see where we are right now and of course, we’re going to go in there swinging, so they know that. They know that we’re not just going to lay down. We’re not going to do that. They’re going to have to face us."

Those are the words of a quarterback who has seen the fruits of his labor and has found a steadiness on Sundays we didn't see 13 weeks ago. When supreme talent, confidence, and comfort mix together, you get a quarterback with unflinching belief in himself and the flow he now finds himself in on Sunday.

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The Eagles will be the best defense Fields has faced this season outside of a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers in a Week 1 monsoon. That doesn't seem to faze him. He knows the challenges they present. He also knows they have to deal with him too.

"I'm excited to see what I can do," Fields said with a smile.

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