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Justin Fields divulges key to staying calm, relaxed

Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

Remaining calm and relaxed against the Vikings Sunday in Minnesota helped Bears quarterback Justin Fields play his best game as a pro.

"When I first got here, you see big guys flying around, D-linemen going fast," Fields said after establishing career highs with a 118.8 passer rating and 71.4 completion percentage. "You just think you have to speed everything up. But I'm starting to figure out you've got to play within your own rhythm and the way you know how to play and staying calm in the pocket."

The goal, the second-year pro explained Tuesday, is to take the same timing and rhythm he plays with with no defense on the field in practice and replicate it in games.

"Of course, you're going to have to move in the pocket when D-linemen come," Fields said. "But as much as possible you just want to stay calm and stay in that rhythm that you have in routes on air when there's not a rush."

While that no doubt is easier said than done, Fields revealed that there's a reason he's been able to remain calm and relaxed.

"Honestly, if I'm being real, I think it has something to do with my breathing," Fields said. "I've been working on my breathing during games, like in slow [for] four seconds and out slow. I think just doing that automatically keeps me more calm in the pocket and really just during the game."

Fields said he's learning breathing techniques from a yoga instructor the Bears have brought in to work with players the last two weeks. While it's helped his play, the second-year quarterback joked that there is one negative to remaining in a relaxed state of mind.

"I don't even like doing pregame speeches because I feel like I'm so much calmer than everybody else," Fields said. "When the defensive guys are all juiced up ready to go, I just try to stay chill the whole time."

Against the Vikings, Fields completed 15 of 21 passes for 208 yards and one TD and rushed for 47 yards on eight carries. On the Bears' final five possessions—beginning with a two-minute drill at the end of the first half—he connected on 13 of 15 passes for 174 yards and one TD and rushed for 36 yards on five carries. He also had an apparent 52-yard TD run negated by a penalty on receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette for an illegal block.

"I thought he did a really nice job in that game in the sense of he kept his composure," said offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. "They got off to a big lead, he kept the team together, he did a really job of hunting completions for us. Then, he had three or four unbelievable escapes that were ridiculous. I thought he did a pretty good job. Again, we're getting a little bit better each week and that's truly our purpose, that's our goal."

Getsy was happy to hear Fields say that he is learning to play at his own speed and with his own rhythm.

"That's the experience part of it that's hard for everybody to have patience with," Getsy said. "It's cool that he's seeing that or saying that, but hopefully what he sees and how he views everything 10 games from now, hopefully he can even say that more dramatically. That's part of playing this position. You can't say or feel those things unless you experience it in the games.

"He's got a few more reps under his belt now, so I think he's starting to play within his style and his ways, and he's finding his own way within our system and helping his teammates around him and all that good stuff. There's a lot that goes into playing the position, right? And so each week he's been able to take on more and feel more and understand more."