Once rookie quarterback Justin Fields settled in, the Chicago Bears saw the playmaking ability they dreamed about on draft day.
Fields rallied Chicago back Saturday from a 13-0 deficit in his preseason debut by throwing for a touchdown and running for one in a 20-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
“It is preseason and we understand that there’s variables involved and all that, but at the same time if you said is he doing what you want him to do? Absolutely,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said.
In just over two quarters of playing time, Fields was 14 of 20 for 142 yards and was at his best rolling outside the pocket and throwing.
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“I definitely feel good outside of the pocket,” Fields said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the defense and allows me to play backyard football with the receivers.”
Fields’ passing also helped the Bears get on the scoreboard for the first time with a 53-yard Cairo Santos field goal on the final play of the first half. Until that possession, the Bears hadn’t picked up a first down as Miami dominated play early.
With Soldier Field fans chanting “Let’s Go Fields,” the former Ohio State passer replaced starter Andy Dalton with 12:11 left until halftime but needed a few drives to get warmed up. Fields did fumble during a scramble following a spin move in the second quarter before the rally began, but the ball went out of bounds.
“I think after that I’m going to officially retire the spin move,” Fields said.
The Bears put away the win with Brian Johnson’s 44-yard field goal following a 51-yard run by Artavis Pierce in the fourth quarter after Fields left the game.
The performance left Bears players bubbling.
“He’s a natural,” said receiver Rodney Adams, who led the Bears with four catches for 57 yards.
The passing of Jacoby Brissette and Tua Tagovailoa staked the Dolphins to their early lead. Brissette threw a 23-yard TD pass to Salvon Ahmed and Jason Sanders had field goals of 21 and 35 yards in the first half.
Tagovailoa, who started for Miami, found tight end Mike Gesicke for a 50-yard completion to set up the 21-yard field goal.
Tagovailoa went 8 of 11 for 99 yards. Brissette was 6 of 10 for 67 yards.
The Dolphins were stopped once on the 1-yard line and also by an interception in the end zone.
“Offensively we actually moved the ball, we just didn’t finish drives,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “So, and you know, you don’t finish the drives, you can’t punch it in from the 1, turn it over in that area of the field, it comes back to bite you. And it did today.”
Fields will keep his focus on improving for now and not on what he might need to do to take the starting spot from Dalton. Nagy has insisted Dalton is the starter.
“I think when you look into the future you start worrying about way too much stuff,” Fields said. “You start thinking too much ahead.”
The Bears have reached agreement with former Eagles and Bills veteran Jason Peters, 39, and will let him have a chance to win the left tackle spot.
“I think he’s coming in here to be the left tackle,” Nagy said. “It’s open, man. It’s competition.”
Rookie Teven Jenkins had been expected to start there but has had back issues. The team hasn’t said he’s going on injured reserve.
“It’s more about familiarity with a guy that’s played in this league for a long time,” Nagy said. “He’s been very good.”
Peters played for current Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo in Philadelphia.
LeBron James gave Fields a shout-out on social media during the game.
“Of course I think this is my second shout-out from him,” Fields said, noting he had one in the national semifinal win over Clemson last year. “I think it’s awesome for a prestigious athlete to give me a shout-out like that. Of course, I’ve been a LeBron fan since I was 6 or 7 years old. I used to have his poster up in my room.”
The Bears’ defense has made a huge point of forcing more turnovers under new coordinator Sean Desai. They succeeded against Miami with an interception and a fumble recovery.
Tagovailoa’s pass to former Bears tight end Adam Shaheen was plucked by backup Bears safety DeAndre Houston-Carson just inside the end zone in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter, safety Marqui Christian stripped tight end Kai Locksley of the ball after a completion and Dionte Ruffin recovered for Chicago.
The interception was on Tagovailoa, Flores said.
“I was late,” Tagovailoa said. “And in this league you can never be late over the middle in the red area. Like I said, those are recipes for disaster and that’s what happened.”
Miami first-round draft pick Jaylen Waddle did nothing in the passing game in his debut but started the Dolphins out well with a 24-yard punt return. The Dolphins also had a 34-yard punt return by Jakeem Grant Sr.
Bears WR Allen Robinson missed the game due to hamstring tightness. The Dolphins were without WR Will Fuller, who has been out with a foot injury.
The Dolphins host Atlanta on Aug. 21. They will host the Falcons in joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday leading up to the game.
The Bears host Buffalo on Aug. 21 as former Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky comes to Soldier Field.
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