There's no quarterback battle in Chicago this time around. The Bears are moving forward with second-year signal-caller Justin Fields as their lead man. He certainly showed some flashes during his rookie campaign. There were bad times, such as his first career start vs. the Cleveland Browns when he was sacked nine times, but there were also good times, like his Week 9 performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when the Bears put up 21 points in the fourth quarter and almost stole a win.
In 12 games with 10 starts, the Ohio State product threw for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions while going 2-8. Fields was simply getting his feet wet, but he's made it a point to hold his nose and take the full plunge in Year 2.
In spring practices, Fields' teammates noticed a difference in him.
"You just feel him in the huddle," Bears tight end Cole Kmet said, via ESPN. "He's not just repeating the play, he's telling you the play, and there's a difference in that. That gives me confidence as a player out in the field. He's talking to each guy. It's not just a repeat-a-play, he's telling us a play, which is a difference."
Confidence in the huddle is one thing, but tight end Ryan Griffin also noted that the young QB will call out his teammates for being in the wrong place at the wrong time in practice. No. 1 is establishing himself as the No. 1 leader on offense.
While Chicago has a prospective franchise quarterback, it's fair to be wary of those around him. The Bears went out and signed Equanimeous St. Brown and Byron Pringle to start alongside Darnell Mooney, and also added Velus Jones Jr. in the draft. This isn't a wide receiving corps that is one of the more elite groups in the NFL, but Fields' connection with Mooney last year is something that's cause for optimism.
Mooney caught 81 passes for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns last year, and also caught the eye of fans and fantasy football managers alike. His budding connection with Fields is likely the most important facet of Chicago's offense moving forward.
"He wants to take over the league," Mooney said of Fields. "He's already Justin Fields. He wants to be the best quarterback in the league. He's taken the stride to be there. I got unbelievable faith that he will be there, and his success is my success. So, as long as he's doing good, I'm doing good, we're all doing good."
New offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko have been charged with ensuring Fields takes that next step in his development, and it sounds like he's already fully embraced his new role of leader.