Despite being out of playoff contention, Sunday's game in Detroit is far from meaningless to second-year quarterback Justin Fields.
"I feel like there's always something to play for, no matter if we're 0-15 or right now 3-12 or 12-3," said the second-year quarterback. "My outlook on this game this weekend and today's practice is just getting better, growing and learning."
Sunday's game will provide a litmus test for the Bears, who will look to avenge a 31-30 loss to the Lions Nov. 13 at Soldier Field. Detroit is still alive for the playoffs, having won six of eight to improve from 1-6 to 7-8—a half-game behind the Commanders (7-7-1) for the seventh and final NFC postseason berth.
"It's always good when we get to go up against a division opponent," Fields said, "just playing them and kind of getting used to that, and that atmosphere this weekend should be a pretty good atmosphere. I know the guys are excited for that. Any time you get to play a game, it's just a learning opportunity and an opportunity for you to ball out and really just do what you love."
Fields is undeterred by the injuries that have decimated the offense, especially the receiver position. Darnell Mooney is out for the season with an ankle injury, while Chase Claypool (knee) and Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion) sat out last Saturday's loss to the Bills. Starting guards Cody Whitehair (knee) and Teven Jenkins (neck) also did not play versus Buffalo.
"I think every game, even this game, it's a learning opportunity," Fields said. "When those backups do come in and they're actually starting this game, it's just an opportunity for me and them to grow during practice, grow during that week and me being on the same page as them.
"Of course, Mooney, Chase and those guys, they haven't been able to run routes after practice, so I've been getting extra routes with the guys that maybe didn't do it as much earlier in the year. It's been good just growing those relationships and just trying to be on the same page as them."
“I feel like there’s always something to play for …” Bears QB Justin Fields
Sunday's game in Detroit also presents an opportunity for thew Bears to snap a losing streak that began Oct. 30 in Dallas.
"It would feel great," Fields said. "I know we're on a losing streak right now, but I think winning this week and winning the last week of the season, it would be great momentum going into the offseason. It'll just feel good just ending a game with a win because we're on an eight-game losing streak … Just the work that we put in during the week and it paying off with a win, that'd definitely be huge, for sure."
Despite the Bears' 3-12 record, the morale in the locker room and the energy on the practice field have both remained high. Fields thinks that's due to the culture that has been established.
"Like I've been saying all year, no matter what's happened the week before, everybody comes in the same, with the same energy," Fields said. "The coaches do a great job staying on us, staying on the leaders of the team to bring that energy every day in practice and just have that mindset, just getting better each and every day and just approaching each day differently and resetting after each day and just coming in [and] getting better that day."
Bears players seem to take a cue from Fields and his even-keeled nature.
"I feel like I've always been kind of level-headed like that," Fields said. "It's never going to be perfect, so when you do hit that adversity or when you do hit that point in the game where something went wrong, the only answer is to just keep your head down, keep going and keep fighting and keep playing each play out and keep going. You can't worry about what happened last game or the last drive. You've got to move and just say, '[forget] it' and go play.'"
That's exactly what Fields intends to do Sunday—even if the Bears have no chance of making it to the playoffs.
"I'm excited to go and I'm blessed," he said. "I really say that I have the best job in the world, just getting to do what I love each and every day and getting to play a sport."