The conversations between the Chicago Bears and Justin Fields appear to be different than they have before as they prepare for the 2023 season.
As a rookie in 2021, Fields struggled during a 10-start audition. Last season, Fields became a dangerous runner -- finishing with the second-most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season -- but was up and down, even with moderate gains from his first year, as a passer and processor.
As Fields enters his critical third season, the Bears are testing Fields mentally even more as a way of helping him develop as an all-around quarterback. And so far, it appears that Fields is handling the higher-level quarterback discourse seamlessly.
"Justin is someone that's super focused, works his tail off in every aspect of it," Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said on Wednesday, via Chris Emma of 670 The Score. "… The types of conversations we're having right now in that room, we're really on a different level than we were last year as far as where we can go with his growth."
One way Getsy believes he can help Fields grow, he said, is by training his QB to be more selective. and make better decisions on knowing when it's best to throw and when to scramble.
"With the running part of it, most of that is a natural thing once you're in the moment," Getsy said, via Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. "But the decision-making, we're working on every day. Timing and rhythm, we're working on every day. And lastly, the situation you're in.
"Putting that all together, you're just increasing the football IQ so you know better when to take those opportunities and when not to."
Getsy isn't looking down his nose at Fields' 1,143 rush yards and eight rushing touchdowns in 2022. Oftentimes, Fields made lemonade from lemons on what was a flawed Bears offense last season.
But with several additions on that side of the ball, along with Fields needing to show the Bears he can be more of a consistently great passer, now is as good a time as ever to hone his fight-or-flight instinct as a passer.
"There are plenty of times on film that (you see) he shouldn't do it, and even though it worked out for us, in the end there's a better decision," Getsy said. "There's a better way."
This strategy comes with risk, of course. The last thing the Bears want to do, Getsy said, is limit Fields by taking away one of his greatest strengths and forcing him to throw the ball exactly the way the play is drawn up.
"By no means will I make that guy robotic," Getsy insisted. "I don't believe in doing that with any player."
Somewhere lies a happy medium, one where Fields can still unleash his improvisational magic as a runner and also pass up some of those opportunities when there's a chance to gut the opponent through the air. Getsy believes the first steps of the Bears' current path with Fields will allow him to do that better this season.
"There's a way to refine it all and improve our decision-making and trusting our timing and rhythm," Getsy said, "and we'll take it from there."