Asked how he’d fix his own mistakes from a blowout loss to the Packers, quarterback Justin Fields paused and changed the subject Wednesday. He wanted to address what he said Sunday when asked if losing hurt because of how badly Bears fans wanted to win the rivalry game.
“It hurts more in the locker room than the Bears fans,” he said Sunday night. “Because at the end of the day they’re not putting in any work. I see the guys in the locker room every day — I see how much work they put in.”
A prominent social media company posted a video clip of his answer — and Fields spent the next two days watching negative fan reaction.
“What I meant by that, is, I’m talking about work regarding the game on Sunday, winning the game,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t know any fans. I don’t know what they’re doing in their personal lives. I respect every fan that we have. I’m glad that we have fans. I would never disrespect anybody on what they do or what they love to do.
“It came off like that.”
That’s because Fields admitted to being so frustrated by the loss that he didn’t want to give his league-mandated postgame news conference.
Fields, who spent the last two years of his Ohio State career as one of the most famous people in college sports, should know that commenting on fans rarely ends well for an athlete. He should also know that he’ll need them on his side Sunday at Soldier Field, particularly after he threw for just 70 yards in the Packers loss.
He’s feeling the pressure that comes with being the Bears’ starting quarterback after a rivalry loss — and saying the wrong thing.
“I talked to my dad about it,” he said. “And as long as I’m going to be in this position there’s going to be stuff like that that pops up. So just knowing that as long as I’m in this profession that it’s never going to go away. So just gotta either be really clear to everything that I say. Be really descriptive to what I mean. Or really just don’t say anything at all.”
He doesn’t like the last option.
“I try to show my personality to the world ... ” he said. “To show that I am a real person and yes I do make mistakes.”
Fields has extra time to think about it. He woke up at 5:45 a.m. .Wednesday and plans to keep doing so. That’s an hour or so earlier than usual — time, he said, he’s spent studying film and other ways to get better.
“Changing up my whole routine,” he said. “I just hate losing. Like, Sunday hit different. It hit different than all the losses last year.”
Perhaps it was the pain of getting the same result with a whole new coaching staff and a vastly different Bears roster. Or because of Fields throwing only 11 passes Sunday.
Fields wants to throw more. Despite his frustration, he was careful to defer to the Bears’ play-callers when asked about it Wednesday. He should have done the same when posed with the fan question Sunday. They add up to the same thing: Fields is painfully aware of what the outside world thinks entering Sunday’s game against the Texans.
“When we come in and put in so much work, from the morning to the afternoon, and when I see my teammates on Thursday, Friday ... it’s just, like, all that stuff we did to prepare for the game on Sunday,” he said. “And we come out with a loss? It just sucks.
“I’m trying to change up my routine a little bit. Just trying to get in as much work as possible, just knowing that I can’t do anything more to prepare for this game mentally and physically.”