Pierce’s Justin Fields points to practice for ‘robotic’ play

Courtney CroninESPN staff writerSep 20, 2023, 02:06 PM ET5 minutes of reading

Justin Fields attributes the practice to ‘robotic’ play

Justin Fields admits he needs to rely less on training and be more intuitive as a master.

Lake Forest, Ill. — Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields characterized his play in a 27-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as “robotic” and that he didn’t feel like he was “playing like me.”

According to the 24-year-old quarterback, one of the reasons Fields believes he makes him think more in games is because of his coaching.

“You know, I think maybe coaching,” Fields said. “At the end of the day, they’re doing their job when they give me what to watch, but at the end of the day, when the game comes, I can’t think about it. I prepare myself all week. Then when the game comes, it’s time to play freely. Think less. Play more.”

Fields was 16-of-29 for 211 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and rushed four times for 3 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown. Those were the fewest rushing yards Fields had since his freshman season.

The road loss extended Chicago’s losing streak to 12 games through October 2022.

Fields said he hopes to change his approach against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 so he can play like himself.

“My goal this week is to say F and go out and play football because I know how to play football,” Fields said. “It involves thinking less and going out there and playing off instinct. Rather than just saying the information in my head is the data in my head. Actually going out there and playing football. Getting back to it is a game, that’s all.

“That’s when I play my best, when I’m out there playing free and being myself, what I’m supposed to do, this and that, I’m going to pump all the pocket stuff. I’m going to go. Be me out there.”

The quarterback had six sacks against the Buccaneers, many of which came after long stretches in the pocket. Fields said coaches have stressed that he stays in the pocket throughout the season and that he relies on his internal clock to make plays when situations call for him to do so.

“I don’t think it’s a lot of coaching voices, but I think when you’re given a lot of information at one time, you try to think about that information when you’re playing, and it’s not like you let yourself play,” Fields said. “You’re trying to process that much information from anywhere. If I simplified it in my mind, I would have done this. I looked at some of the plays on Sunday and if I played my old style, we would have. Had a positive play. Still would have been on third down. [conversions]. I think the biggest thing for me is playing the game the way I know how to play and how I’ve been playing my whole life. That’s what I want to do again.”

The quarterback said he spoke to the Bears staff about his concerns and the coaches agreed to figure out what went wrong in Tampa Bay. Coach Matt Eberfluss said he didn’t feel the Bears were overcoaching Fields and “we like him to be independent.”

“He values ‚Äč‚Äčthat partnership, and so do we,” Eberfluss said. We want him to play freely. I think it’s very important that we train him and make sure he plays for free.

“A lot of times he wants to be perfect. He wants to do it the right way. There’s a balance there, right? There’s a balance between, ‘Hey, I’m going through my strides, but also having the ability to say, ‘Hey, I feel like these things are happening. Now I’m going to play instinct.’ It could be sliding into the pocket in the B gap and delivering the ball or taking it off and running. I think that’s where it’s at.”

Fields believes voicing his concerns with the coaches is part of the process necessary to improve the team’s early struggles.

“Nobody’s going to take anything personal,” Fields said. “The coaches say we have to play better and I have to play better, and I don’t take it personally because I think everyone here knows that I have to play better, including myself. They don’t take it personally. We as players go to them and say, ‘ We say, ‘I don’t like this call.’ They should be fine. We all grew up in the building, and we can all take it. It’s about working with each other, getting each other. The other is better, holding each other accountable and working toward the same goal. Based on that fact, yes, I think everyone can do better here, including me.”

Meanwhile, Fields’ defense took a hit Wednesday with news that left tackle Braxton Jones is out with an injured neck.

Asked if Jones could miss the season, Eberflus said: “We’ll see where it is. We don’t have timetables right now. It’s just now.”

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