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Fields continuing to make improvements in passing game


Since returning from the thumb injury he sustained Oct. 15 against the Vikings, Bears quarterback Justin Fields has made noticeable improvements in all facets of his game, helping the Bears win two of his last three starts.

One specific area of growth that has stood out to coach Matt Eberflus is Fields' increased ball security.

"Taking care of the football, in terms of interceptions, that's been good as of late," Eberflus said. "A perfect game for a quarterback is zero turnovers. That gives us a chance to win the game. Just continuing to do that."

In his last five starts, dating back Oct. 5 against the Commanders, Fields has thrown just one interception. In the past three games, the third-year pro has been perfect in that regard.

"Just trying to make the best decisions I can — we preach no turnovers," Fields said. "So 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.

"That's just the No. 1 priority on offense, is taking care of the ball because we know if we don't do that, we don't have a chance to score ... making sure ball security is at a premium."

Eberflus has also noticed an improvement in Fields' rhythm and timing as well as his pocket presence, including the ability to look downfield while on the move.

Fields told reporters Wednesday that his improvements in the pocket come down to "a feel thing," specifically "having that mental clock and listening to your feet."

While pocket presence was an emphasis for Fields by him and the coaching staff in the offseason, the Ohio State product is also relying on previous in-game experiences to grow in that area.

"I think just learning from past mistakes," Fields said. "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."

Throughout the ebbs and flows of this season, Fields' attitude has remained calm and consistent, a valuable trait inside the Bears locker room.

While Fields' on-field advancements are noticeable, center Lucas Patrick said the quarterback hasn't changed anything behind-the-scenes.

"I see the same guy every day," Patrick said. "Ripping notes, saying the little things when needed, calling the offense up both good or bad, hanging out with the guys. He's exactly the same. Y'all probably want to hear that he's probably doing something different or changed or something, but no. 1's a special player, but he's even a better person.

"I think people are starting to see how much this locker room has his back, how much we up front have his back. We don't like it when he gets those extra hits. We try to run up there and get there, we're just not as fast as he is. Not everybody runs a 4.3, 4.4 like he does. He's a great kid, great player, great man."

The Bears were back on the practice fields at Halas Hall to continue their preparation for Sunday's road game against the Cleveland Browns.

Fields and Eberflus both addressed those "extra hits" this week during press conferences after the QB endured a few late hits that were not flagged during Sunday's game.

On the first play of the game, Fields was hit by Lions linebacker Jack Campbell after sliding. Eberflus said he has been and continues to be vocal with the league about those type of hits.

"I'm very active on that," Eberflus said Monday. "I'm always in their ear about that because protecting the quarterbacks in this league is big. Those guys are the league, so it's important that we do that and we continue to do that. If you have a guy that's a runner and he slides down like that, we've gotta protect him. I wasn't happy about that first one and I let him know about it. It's just not the right thing to do. We've just gotta make sure we take care of our quarterbacks."

While Fields said the lack of calls is "kind of frustrating," he knows in the moment he "can't do anything about it" besides getting up and moving onto the next play. But to try and mitigate those late hits, Fields talks to the officials before each game.

"I always tell them that I'm not trying to take any hits," Field said. "I get down pretty fast. Just look out for me if they see any late hits. I'm going to try to get down. I'm not going to try to do anything sneaky like any fake slides or whatever. So, yeah, that's pretty much it."