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Justin Fields’ first taste of the NFL was either a statement on how developed his football IQ is or a stunning indictment of the Miami Dolphins defense.
After completing 14 of 20 pass attempts for 142 yards and a touchdown in a 20-13 preseason victory, the rookie quarterback told reporters the pace of play wasn’t as fast as he was expecting it would be after starring at Ohio State.
Kevin Fishbain @kfishbain
Justin Fields asked about the speed of the game: “It was actually kind of slow to be honest. … Me going against (the Bears’ defense) every day slows it down for me.” pic.twitter.com/VFiAJ6WwOy
Granted, the Dolphins were using the game as a practice as well—and likely not showing their full array of looks this early in the year—but for Fields to display as much poise in his first appearance is more than enough to satisfy Bears fans for now.
Fields rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown on five carries, using his speed and agility to confuse the Dolphins on a few occasions.
One notable third down during a two-minute drill saw the rookie scramble out of the pocket, pull the defense toward himself and ultimately find an open receiver behind the chains for a first down. Fields crept close to the line of scrimmage on the run, making sure the defense had to key in on him, showing the type of poise in those situations that can win over coaching staffs.
PFF College @PFF_College
Justin Fields making PLAYS on third down 🐐 pic.twitter.com/7D1qfj9fDY
“I was as calm as could be,” Fields said.
While starter Andy Dalton (2-of-4 passing, 18 yards) handled the first two series for Chicago, the reason most fans cared to tune in Saturday was to see what Fields could do after just a summer’s worth of work. His performance won’t to anything to quell the enormous hype around the No. 11 overall pick last spring.
It also won’t change head coach Matt Nagy’s plans heading into the season.
Despite acknowledging the calmness exhibited by Fields all game, Nagy doesn’t plan on promoting the rookie over Dalton on the depth chart. At least not yet. The coach wants to see Fields play at this level consistently before that even becomes a conversation worth having.
Zack Pearson @Zack_Pearson
“Just worry about tomorrow. And just create competition and be the best quarterback you can be” – #Bears HC Matt Nagy on what Justin Fields can do to change Matt Nagy’s mind.
The game flow may not have felt too fast for Fields on Saturday, but he’s not able to speed up his development just yet.