Jimmy Graham’s locker-mate is kind of a big deal. He’s Justin Fields.
“Man, I love the kid. He sits beside me in the locker room and, man, he wants to be good. He wants to be great. He puts in the work,” Graham said Thursday.
The 12-year veteran knows a little something about quarterback play, considering he’s caught touchdowns from Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers throughout his career. And that’s why the Justin Fields comparison Graham offered up Thursday carries some weight.
“You know, the ability to make plays while you’re running, I think he’s going to have – it’s been impressive to see him so young, so focused,” Graham said. “And I can tell it definitely reminds me a lot of Russell Wilson.”
Graham spent three years in Seattle from 2015-17, catching 170 passes and 18 touchdowns from Wilson. The tight end isn’t the first to make the comparison, but he might be the most credible to do so. The combination of arm strength and mobility is similar. Even the way Fields holds the football and unloads it looks a lot like Wilson.
“I would say these past couple years I’ve kind of turned more to a Russell Wilson-type quarterback. I’ve watched a lot of film on him,” Fields said after getting drafted by the Bears.
When asked to go deeper into the comparison, Fields said: “Just (Wilson’s) deep ball is one, just off the top of my head, the way he puts it up, a lot of arc on it, his accuracy of course and just how he carries himself as a leader, as a teammate. I like his game because he’s an accurate quarterback. He also uses his legs. So just stuff like that. I think those are some similarities that we have.”
Apparently, that’s what Graham – who is lauded throughout the Bears organization for his positive impact on younger players – is seeing early on with Fields.
“The guy really can throw the ball. That’s been impressive to see his arm strength,” Graham said. “At some point I’ve got to get him matched up with the guy up there in Seattle.”
Hm. How does Dec. 26 sound? The Bears visit the Seahawks in Week 16.
Of course, if that happens, it means Andy Dalton is no longer the starter. And while that wouldn’t be surprising, Graham also offered up plenty of praise for the 11th year quarterback.
“Really just how he commands the offense and how he helps everybody to understand what he wants, how he wants it,” Graham said. “All the teaching that (Dalton) is doing, with (Fields) as well, it’s incredible. He really understands the offense in-an- out and where guys should be, what should happen. He’s been extremely impressive, really has.”
Graham’s assessment of the Bears’ top two quarterbacks falls in line with what has been seen on practice fields. The rookie has been impressive, but the veteran hasn’t wavered. Dalton sure looks and acts like a starting quarterback.
“He understands, uniquely, all these things, pre-snap, post-snap,” Graham said. “He’s been sharp since day one about basically everything within this offense. So it’s really helped us out a lot because this is a very diverse offense, you can play multiple positions, and a lot is demanded from you.”
Of course, if we’re discussing Russell Wilson comparisons, Wilson was in a similar position as a rookie in 2012, joining a team that had just signed a veteran (Matt Flynn) in free agency to be the starter. Wilson surprised everyone by beating Flynn out in the preseason and, 10 seasons later, he’s never missed a game.
We’ll see over the next month if Fields can apply similar pressure. But even if the rookie isn’t the Bears’ starter by Week 1, Graham might be onto something with a possible Fields-Wilson matchup in December.