CHICAGO — If you were looking for a case-in-point moment to demonstrate why Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields has seemed to be playing, in his own words, “robotic” to begin his third NFL season, it came late in the first half Sunday in Tampa, Fla.
The Bears faced third-and-13 from the Buccaneers 27 — in part because of a sack Fields took two snaps earlier when he declined to pull the trigger for a potential big-play pass to Roschon Johnson up the seam. Then, on the subsequent third down, as Fields sat in the pocket scanning for open receivers, he hesitated, then froze. Totally locked up.
His protection was great at first, then still really good. It only became vulnerable more than five seconds after the snap when Buccaneers outside linebacker Cam Gill finally looped past right tackle Darnell Wright and drilled Fields.
Down he went. The football squirted loose.
Fortunately, center Lucas Patrick dove on the ball and the Bears squeezed a field goal out of the possession. But that strip sack — one of 10 Fields has taken through two games — felt emblematic of the ongoing struggles the 24-year-old quarterback has been experiencing.
Even Fields realized he needed to so something. Anything. And if he had that sequence to do all over again? “I’m leaving,” he said Wednesday morning at Halas Hall. “I’m gone. Time clock (goes off), I’m gone out of the pocket.”
Instead, with a cacophony of instruction points from coaches echoing in his brain, Fields stayed where he was. He stayed and got sacked, he explained, “because they wanted me to work on staying in the pocket during the offseason.”
“On that play specifically, I was in the pocket for a long time,” Fields added. “I’ve got to extend the play and get out of the pocket. Extend the play and do something with it. Make something shake.”
All in favor? Say “aye.”
Then chew on this Week 3 vow Fields made as he prepares to lead the Bears against reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. As 13-point underdogs.
©2023 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.