Last year, the Bears had a plan for training camp. Or so they said. Despite trading up for Justin Fields in the NFL Draft, he would be the No. 2 quarterback behind Andy Dalton.

And nothing Fields did on the practice fields of Halas Hall would change that.

Not his success in the red zone in joint practices with the Dolphins.

Or his success in preseason games against Miami or Tennessee.

“This is something that we’ve planned for and prepared for and … Justin understands all of this,” former coach Matt Nagy said in the middle of August last year. “That’s what I love about him, is he understands the plan; he understands the process.”

Nagy finally deviated from that plan early in the regular season after Dalton was injured and the internal pressure mounted not only to develop Fields but to play him. As it turned out, the Bears’ process for Fields was flawed.

Does this camp feel different for Fields? The short answer is absolutely. His development will no longer take place behind the scenes as the Bears once planned. It will be center stage. It’s everything.

“He’s not where he needs to be, but this is why we have training camp,” coach Matt Eberflus said Tuesday to open training camp. “He’s just going to keep getting better and better and better all the way to the first game. So we’re excited about his development.”

No one is expecting the Bears to be a great team in 2023. But they can take meaningful steps toward being one in the future if Fields comes along this season, which starts in camp.

 

What is Luke Getsy building for Fields?

In a change from previous training camps, the head coach won’t speak to the media every day that the Bears practice in camp. Instead, Eberflus’ coordinators — Luke Getsy (offense), Alan Williams (defense) and Richard Hightower (special teams) — will be made available more to detail the happenings of camp. Last year, the Bears’ coordinators spoke only once during camp.