Like it or not, there’s going to be a natural tendency for fans, reporters and even those inside Halas Hall to compare Justin Fields’ development to Mitchell Trubisky’s.
And that’s OK, as long as it’s done in the proper context of Fields’ progress without making grand conclusions about the end result.
As of now, the sample size for Fields is extremely low, but that hasn’t stopped me from getting many questions about how Fields’ impressive rookie minicamp compared to Trubisky’s four years ago. To be honest, I was hesitant to even go down that road because one rookie minicamp does not determine success or failure throughout a career and Trubisky has been beaten up enough over comparisons to Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.
And yet, the Fields comparisons are inevitable – and even somewhat relevant. Bears head coach Matt Nagy brought up a good point last weekend about how Fields established the baseline for his foundation as they move forward this summer.
“As a coaching staff we have to say, OK, where's he at right now? What's his bottom ground, what's his base? And once we know what his base foundation is then we can start to build off that,” Nagy said. “Then it's just going to be how fast he can learn. How fast can is this stuff happening? What kinds of plays is he making in practice? What kinds of mistakes is he making? And again, it just ultimately goes back to, we'll all see it and we'll know it.”
Well, those of us who were able to watch Fields’ first couple of practices know they went pretty well. So with that in mind, is Justin Fields ahead of where Mitchell Trubisky was at this time in 2017? Let’s go to the archives…
It only took one rep for Mitch Trubisky to botch a snap under center.
That was literally the first sentence of my column following Trubisky’s first rookie minicamp practice. And it’s not like I was beating the kid up. If you read the whole column, I was making the point that it would be silly to overreact to his early struggles. As it turned out, Trubisky became a pretty decent quarterback under center, often looking more comfortable there than in the shotgun.
Day 1 went exactly as you’d expect … With zero pass rush and no pads on, Trubisky lived up to the scouting report. His footwork was good, his accuracy was on point and his lack of comfort under center was evident.
Let’s just hope no one was keeping stats Friday.
You get the point. Snaps were fumbled. Balls hit the ground. At least one pass was intercepted.
It was a different experience than what we witnessed with Fields last weekend.
“I don’t know that we’re quite ready after one practice to define his career,” former Bears head coach John Fox said after Trubisky’s first practice.
As John Foxy as that quote is, the same applies to Fields, even if Nagy was singing a much different tune about his rookie quarterback on Day 1.
“His mechanics were really good. I thought he seemed super calm,” Nagy said. “A lot of times in these camps things seem a thousand miles per hour and it didn’t seem that way from where I was. The ball did not touch the ground very much in the reps that he had passing the football, so that part was good.”
Both Fields and Trubisky entered their rookie minicamps with similar short-term questions. Neither player was asked to command a huddle or take many snaps from under center in college. In the larger picture, Fields played in bigger games and handled more full-field reads, but in terms of what they were focused on in minicamp, the goals were pretty similar.
And there’s no doubt Fields performed better.
Again, that means very little in defining his career path. That’s not the point of this column. But when you consider the starting point – the base of Justin Fields’ foundation – the early results suggest he’s ahead of where Trubisky was four years ago.
And there’s nothing wrong with feeling good about that.