I could waste time and space with filler words as part of a flowery intro, or I could tell you that Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields said what we have all been thinking. It was eye-opening, refreshing, candid, and everything you could’ve wanted to hear from a self-awareness standpoint.
Here is a collection of the quotes that stood out the most to me from the presser. I’ve added some words of my own for additional context, depth, and perspective. This was a treat to type out, even if today has been a mess.
Justin Fields on Playing Free
Fields was asked about what he liked and didn’t like about his early season performance. And what he said about what he did *NOT* like was telling:
“I felt like I wasn’t necessarily playing my game. Felt like I was kind of robotic, not playing like myself. My goal this week is to say “F it” and just go out there and play football how I know how to play football. That includes thinking less and just going out there and playing off instincts. That’s when I play my best when I’m out there playing free and being myself.”
It is no secret that Fields hasn’t been playing up to his capabilities. This is someone who looked good for extended stretches last year and spent the offseason trying to hone his craft, only to see regression across the board. As an admitted over-thinker, I can relate to Fields trying to do too much and it resulting in setbacks across the board. An important first step for Fields to move past this is to identify that he is thinking too much and that he needs to go back to what made things work in the first place. This isn’t to say forget about making improvements elsewhere. But abandoning the style that made you successful in the first place isn’t the best way to go about being better overall.
Coaching Contributed to Over-Thinking
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to modern American sports is when coaches try to coach something that a player doesn’t have. For instance, in baseball, when pitch labs try to add a pitch to a hurler’s repertoire only to see them lose feel for what made them successful in the first place. That is just one example of how over-coaching is a slippery slope. And it sure seems like over-coaching has been a contributing factor to Fields’ over-thinking.
Q: When you say thinking less, what do you think was causing you to think so much?
A: It could be coaching. But at the end of the day, they’re doing their job when they’re giving me what to look at, but I can’t be thinking about that when the game comes. … I prepare myself throughout the week. And then when the game comes, it’s time to play free at that point. Thinking less and playing more.”
When asked if he has too many coaching voices in his head, Fields’ answer felt telling:
I don’t think it’s too many coaching voices. But I just think when you’re fed a lot of information at a point in time and you’re trying to think about that info when you’re playing it doesn’t let you play like yourself. You’re trying to process so much information to where it’s like ‘if I just simplified in my mind I would’ve done this.’ I saw a few plays on Sunday where if I was playing like my old self we would’ve had a positive play. I think that’s the biggest thing for me is just playing the game how I know and how I’ve been playing my whole life. It’s what I have to get back to doing.
(But there’s more on this, below, because Justin Fields rounded up the reporters to clarify some of these comments. So be sure to keep reading).
Fields on OC Luke Getsy
Yes, it sounds like the quotes above are the verbal equivalent of throwing Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy under the bus. But Fields also said that his OC isn’t trying to make him something he isn’t:
Nah, I think Luke knows I’m my own self. I’m my own person. I think it’s more of me making sure I don’t think about it as much as like: ‘We want to do it a specific way.’ In the big scheme of things, I have to continue to be me and play the game how I play it.
I think when sometimes I’m coached, I think that I’ve had times where I’m like, ‘OK, they want me to do it like this.’ So I have to kind of change it. It’s probably more of a me thing than a coach thing. When they tell me things, of course, I correct it. But in the grand scheme of things, I have to still be the person, and the player that got me to this point rather than changing my whole game, just implement it in my game and make those little corrections.
Even if Fields feels this way, what we’re seeing on game film isn’t vibing. And even in this pseudo-defense of Getsy, Fields says without saying that he needs to be given a little more freedom so he doesn’t revert to his robotic ways. It is a fascinating dynamic. One that we’ll continue following as the season rolls along.
And Then Fields Clarifies and Circles Back
In an odd occurrence at Halas Hall, Justin Fields gathered reporters again to clarify his comments from earlier:
“I’m not blaming anything on the coaches. I’m never going to blame anything on coaches. Never going to blame anything on my teammates. I will take all the blame. I don’t care if it’s a dropped pass, it should have been a pass. Put it on me. Never will you hear anything come out of my mouth to where I will blame it on somebody else in this organization, my teammates, never will you hear that. I just wanted to clear that up. And just know that I need to play better. That’s it. Point blank. That’s what I should’ve said in the first place.”
A tip of the cap to Fields for rounding up the media, circling back, and clarifying his comments. I’m not sure if Fields got a talking-to or if it is something he did on his own. But it’ll play better in the locker room with him putting it on his shoulders like that instead of letting it linger. Also, I don’t think he needed to walk anything back. There was nothing he said during his Wednesday press conference that needed to be taken back or stricken from the record. However, I do understand why he’d want to publicly say what he did about dishing out blame.
For Fields’ full press conference, check it out: