Matt Eberflus just had to be sure.
So as Eberflus was preparing to take over as Bears head coach during the offseason, he called his quarterback-proficient coaching friends around the NFL to get their perspective on Justin Fields. Eberflus, who spent his first 13 seasons in the league as a defensive coach, wanted to see if his pre-draft assessment of Fields had been in line with those in his trusted network.
“Everybody said they loved the man — hard worker, very smart, got a really strong arm, throws a great deep ball — and all of those things are true,” Eberflus told The Athletic. “What they said of their evaluation, it’s still true to this day.”
Fields’ rookie season was a mixed bag, understandably so. The Bears roster had plenty of holes, and coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace spent the season on the hot seat before they were fired. The offensive scheme had also been trending in the wrong direction for three seasons.
But now, with increased stability due to the arrival of Eberflus, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and general manager Ryan Poles, along with improved confidence with an extra year of professional experience, Fields is in position to make a jump and perhaps solidify himself as a franchise quarterback.
“As Justin learns the offense,” Eberflus said, “he’s taking a step every single day and improving on everything from footwork to reads to ripping out the call, adjusting the call within the call, taking command of the offense, and he’s done an outstanding job.”
Fields spent the offseason working with Sean McEvoy and Quincy Avery at QB Takeover in Atlanta, joining his longtime throwing coaches in February for a six-week stretch and then another couple of weeks in April. He often worked out with Deshaun Watson, Tyrod Taylor and Malik Willis, among others.