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Bears 2022 position preview: Quarterback

Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

The following is the first of nine position previews in advance of training camp.

Unlike last summer, Justin Fields' jersey number matches his spot on the depth chart.

After taking second-team reps behind veteran Andy Dalton a year ago, Fields will open his second NFL training camp firmly entrenched as the Bears' starting quarterback. 

"Last year, my rookie year, I didn't know if I was going to start or not, didn't know if I was going to play," Fields said during the offseason. "My mindset right now is completely different than last year."

Throughout minicamp and OTA practices, Fields consistently demonstrated more leadership and a greater command of the huddle than he did as a rookie.

"When he comes in to enunciate the play or give us what we need to know to get out there and execute the play, it's just a lot more smooth," left guard Cody Whitehair said in June. "He says it with more confidence, and I think that's just him developing from Year 1 to Year 2. We like where Justin is at and we're really excited for the year."

Bears coach Matt Eberflus has said multiple times that he anticipates Fields will make a big leap in his second NFL season. As a rookie, the former Ohio State standout appeared in 12 games with 10 starts, throwing for 1,870 yards with seven touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 73.2 passer rating. He also rushed for 420 yards and two TDs on 72 carries.

Fields showed flashes of his dynamic dual-threat ability, most notably on a spectacular 22-yard touchdown scramble against the 49ers and by engineering a 75-yard TD drive to give the Bears a late lead over the Steelers. But he also committed miscues that need to be corrected, such as taking too many sacks and failing to protect the ball at times.

One fundamental change the Bears made with Fields during the offseason was having him line up in the shotgun formation with his left foot forward instead of his right foot like last year. The switch is intended to help him get rid of the ball faster.

The Bears are hoping that Fields picks up in training camp where he left off during offseason practices. He'll continue to work on mastering the new system with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko.

"Luke and Andrew are doing a great job with the footwork and the timing," Eberflus said last month. "That, to me, jumps out. You can see it in the drill work. You can see them taking it from the drill work to the 11-on-11 reps. That's clearly getting better, so I'm excited about that."

Fields displayed his impressive work ethic throughout the offseason, training not only at Halas Hall but away from the facility with teammates Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet. Fields also worked out with former NFL stars Colin Kaepernick and Chad Johnson, among others.

Backup plan features Siemian

Experienced veteran Trevor Siemian will serve as the Bears' No. 2 quarterback, having signed a two-year contract in late March. He has appeared in 33 NFL games with 29 starts over six seasons with the Broncos (2015-17), Vikings (2018), Jets (2019), Titans (2020) and Saints (2020-21), throwing for 6,843 yards with 41 touchdowns, 27 interceptions and an 81.2 passer rating.

Siemian was selected by the Broncos in the seventh round of the 2015 draft out of Northwestern. As a rookie, he played just one snap—taking a knee at the end of the first half in a game against the Steelers—but won a Super Bowl ring as Denver defeated the Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50.

Following Peyton Manning's retirement, Siemian won a training camp competition for the No. 1 job in 2016. As a result, he became the first quarterback in league history to start a season opener for a defending Super Bowl champion without having thrown an NFL pass. Siemian opened 14 games in 2016 and 10 contests in 2017 for the Broncos, passing for 5,686 yards with 30 TDs, 24 interceptions and a 79.9 rating.

Last season, he played in six games with four starts for the Saints, throwing for 1,154 yards with 11 TDs, three interceptions and an 88.4 rating.

The Bears preferred Siemian as their backup quarterback over veteran Nick Foles—who was released with one year remaining on his contract—because they felt that Siemian is a better fit for their offense and possesses a wealth of knowledge, having backed up two future Hall of Famers in Manning and Drew Brees.

Peterman added in May

Nathan Peterman will head to camp as the Bears' No. 3 quarterback, having signed a one-year deal in May. He has appeared in 10 NFL games over four seasons with the Bills (2017-18) and Raiders (2019-21), passing for 573 yards with three touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 34.0 rating.

Peterman was selected by the Bills in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of Pittsburgh. After being waived in November 2018, he joined the Raiders, where he spent the remainder of the season on the practice squad. Peterman missed the 2019 season with an elbow injury before serving as Derek Carr's backup the last two years.