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Fields walks back overcoaching comments: 'I need to play better'

Julio Aguilar / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields clarified his comments about coaching potentially causing his poor performance in Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, saying his words had been "taken out of context" by the media.

"I'm not blaming anything on the coaches, I'm never gonna blame anything on the coaches," Fields said Wednesday, according to the "79th and Halas" podcast. "I'm never gonna blame anything on my teammates. ... Whatever happens in the game, I will take all the blame."

He added: "I need to play better, that's it. Point blank. That's what I should've said in the first place."

Fields also said he thinks the media is "trying to split us up as a team."

The quarterback seemingly suggested earlier Wednesday that his struggles against the Bucs were in part caused by an overload of information from his coaches.

"My goal this week is just to say, 'F it' and go out there and play football how I know to play football," Fields said, according to ESPN's Courtney Cronin. "That includes thinking less and just going out there and playing off of instincts rather than (having) so much info in my head, data in my head. Just literally going out there and playing football."

He added, "That's when I play my best - when I'm just out there playing free and being myself."

Fields described his performance as "robotic" and said he needed to return to his previous playstyle.

"Could be coaching, I think," Fields said when asked about what was causing him to overthink in games.

"They are doing their job when they are giving me what to look at, but at the end of the day, I can't be thinking about that when the game comes," he added. "I prepare myself throughout the week and then when the game comes, it's time to play free at that point. Thinking less and playing more."

Despite an offseason of hype, Chicago sits at 0-2 after Sunday's loss, and Fields' expected third-year leap has yet to materialize. He completed 16 of 29 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions, including a pick-6, in the Week 2 defeat.

Fields' struggles with accuracy and working against pressure have continued into 2023. His 60.6% completion percentage ranks 26th in the NFL, and his percentage of times sacked per pass play of 13.2% is the second-worst mark. He ranks 31st out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks in QBR and 26th in passer rating.

He's also failed to make a significant impact as a runner, producing just 62 yards and one score on 13 runs, a year after rushing for 1,143 yards. The quarterback suggested he'll look to use his legs more.

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus had no issues with Fields' critiques of the offense, agreeing that his quarterback needs to play with his desired freedom.

"Having him be in the flow, having him be free is what we want," said Eberflus, according to Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic. "I want him to speak free to us. I want him to be honest."

Chicago will go on the road to play the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.

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