“He’s soaking everything up. Whether it’s coaches, me, or stuff he’s telling me, it’s really good. [We] couldn’t have a better start to a working relationship.”
Patrick knew that Fields would be special. After all, he was selected with the 11th pick in the 2021 draft. But the quarterback has been even better than advertised.
“I had pretty high expectations,” Patrick said. “You don’t get drafted as high as he does in the National Football League just by kind of having a wet noodle or slow feet. He’s really talented. I thought he was going to be really good, and he is exceeding my expectations. “
The Bears signed Siemian March 29 to be their No. 2 quarterback. The Northwestern product has appeared in 33 NFL games with 29 starts over six seasons with the Broncos (2015-17), Vikings (2018), Jets (2019), Titans (2020) and Saints (2020-21). He has backed up Peyton Manning in Denver, Kirk Cousins in Minnesota, Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee and Drew Brees in New Orleans.
Since the offseason program began April 4, Siemian has worked alongside Fields in the classroom, on the field and in the weight room.
“He’s super bright, super sharp,” Siemian said. “He’s picking it up quick.”
Fields, Siemian and the rest of their teammates on offense are all learning a new system that’s being installed by coordinator Luke Getsy.
“Luke and Andrew are doing a really good job pulling him along,” Siemian said. “And I think the cool part is it’s new for all of us, so we’re learning together, and so far, so good.”
Siemian believes that Fields possesses all the traits that are necessary to succeed in the NFL, including intelligence and accuracy.
“There are certain prerequisites you have to have to play at a high level, and Justin’s got it,” Siemian said. “He’s got all the tools. We’ve got to play well around him and give him a chance. But yeah, he’s got everything.”
Coach Matt Eberflus said Tuesday that he expects the team’s reserve quarterbacks to support and encourage Fields and help him through the learning process.
“That’s big in any quarterback room,” Siemian said. “Everybody says they’ve got a tight-knit room, but I think quarterback is a little different. There’s only one on the field at a time and there’s not many guys that have done it. Obviously, you have your coaches and other teammates , but I’ve always thought it’s good to have guys in your foxhole, so-to-speak, and be able to bounce ideas off them and be there for them.”
Janocko boasts 11 years of coaching experience, including the last seven in different roles with the Vikings. He started with Minnesota as an offensive quality control coach (2015-16) before serving as assistant offensive line coach (2017), co-offensive line coach (2018), assistant line coach (2019), receivers coach (2020) and quarterbacks coach (2021). Last season Janocko helped Cousins throw for 4,221 yards with 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 103.1 passer rating.
During the pre-draft process last year with Minnesota, Janocko conducted a video interview with Fields.
“[I] just knew about his demeanor, his work ethic, the type of guy he is, his winning mentality,” Janocko said. “All that has really been enforced. The way he comes in the building, there’s nobody that’s going to outwork him that’s in this building; coach, player. He’s going to be the hardest worker. For me, that’s something that, coming in here, I had hoped for. It was definitely something that was enforced from the minute he and I first got together.”
Janocko has liked what he’s seen from Fields on the practice field.
“You can start with just his speed,” Janocko said. “He has some athletic tools that can’t be coached, and that’s really cool. And then the next thing is just his intangibles and the way he feels in the pocket and how he’s adapted to the training. He’s such a natural athlete that you can say it to him once or you can demonstrate it, albeit maybe athletically or me trying to do it as a righty.
“He’s just a talented kid. I think he has all the tools to be successful. We’re just trying to put it together for him.”
One change the new staff has already made involves fields lining up in the shotgun formation with his left foot forward instead of his right foot in an attempt to get rid of the ball faster.
“Everything is about timing and rhythm in the NFL,” Janocko said. “If you can get the ball out on time and you can listen to what your feet are telling you, then that helps you progress, helps you get through reads, helps you feel a defense and tells you when you’re late and need to move on.”