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Fields 'ready to go' for third NFL season

Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

Approaching the start of his third NFL season, quarterback Justin Fields is "ready to go" for Sunday's season opener against the Packers.

The Bears offense began establishing an identity last season as it gained comfortability with coordinator Luke Getsy's system. This year, Fields wants to keep evolving that culture with the new additions on the offensive side of the ball.

"I think we did find our identity a little bit into the year, but I think we know what we want to do on offense and we know what we want to get accomplished," Fields told reporters Wednesday. "Of course, we're going to continue to improve throughout the year, as the year goes along, but I think it's going to be a little bit of both.

"We do have new players on the team, [we're] going to have to find this new team's identity, but we already kind of do have an identity set in place from last year. Definitely going to roll with that, too."

The Bears made several offseason moves to enhance the offense, including receiver DJ Moore, offensive linemen Darnell Wright and Nate Davis, running backs D'Onta Foreman and Roschon Johnson and tight end Robert Tonyan.

Those additions on offense gives Fields confidence heading into the regular season, but he acknowledged the group still has to come together and perform on game day.

"We have a lot of great players around us," Fields said, "but at the end of the day, no matter who's on the field you've got to go out there and execute, go out there and do your job. Everybody has to do it. It's gonna take all 11. And as long as we do that, we'll be in good shape."

Fields showed off his playmaking abilities by evading pressure and breaking off longs runs in 2022, finishing the year with 1,143 rushing yards, the second most by a quarterback in NFL history. Following the season, general manager Ryan Poles, coach Matt Eberflus and Fields himself discussed how the QB can make strides in the passing game.

Reflecting on his work this offseason, Fields feels assured that part of his game is improved.

"I feel comfortable as far as everything goes with footwork and stuff like that," Fields said, "so just working hard, doing what I do day-in and day-out and just getting better each and every day. Whatever the defense presents, whichever way they're gonna allow us to beat them, that's what we're gonna do. Whatever I have to do for this team to win, that's what I'm gonna do. I'll just go about it like that."

Because Fields routinely showed off his rushing capabilities, defenses tried to take that aspect away from him late in the year. While it's a waiting game to see what approach defenses take this season, Eberflus said it's important to plan for "if they're going to play him straight up or if they're going to do what they did last year."

No matter which way defenses approach Fields, the Bears believe they will be able to showcase all aspects of their offense.

"When you try to take away something, you open up something else," Eberflus said. "I think that's, you try to load the box to stop the run, you open up the receivers on the outside. You try to defend the pass, and play more split safety, you open up the run so to speak in terms of the basics of football. But certainly, with him, taking away that run game for him is something that people did last year and should open up different avenues for us."

The Bears are eager to get the 2023 season underway, but there's an extra layer of excitement within the locker room because of the rivalry game to open the season.

Still, Fields is keeping a level head when it comes to the recent history of the rivalry and is focused on starting the new season strong.

"Of course it's a big rivalry, but it's Game 1," Fields said. "It's the most important game of the season, so I'm not really looking back towards history. I'm looking toward now. We've got a different team this year. Last year, that was last year, so it's a different year. We don't really care what happened in the past. That doesn't affect what's gonna happen on Sunday. We're just looking to go out there, play our best and put our best foot forward."

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