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Justin Fields‘ journey with the Pittsburgh Steelers follows a familiar storyline—one etched by Patrick Mahomes during his rookie season with the Kansas City Chiefs. As the former Chicago Bears quarterback settles into his new role as Russell Wilson’s understudy, he finds himself at a crossroads mirroring Mahomes’ tenure under veteran Alex Smith.

The burning question remains: can Fields channel that same unwavering persistence to emerge from Wilson’s considerable shadow, much like Mahomes’ own ascent to greatness after a season on the sidelines? The former professionals Shannon Sharpe and Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson provided their two cents concerning the same narrative.

Justin Fields should take in the lessons from Patrick Mahomes

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As Fields gets ready for the new season with the Steelers, Head coach Mike Tomlin made it clear on Sunday that he must learn from the sidelines, stating, “Russell is a veteran, man. He’s got a proven process of readiness…He’s just got a lot of experience in terms of what it takes to be the guy.” The message was loud and clear, Fields has been directed to embrace patience and take notes from Wilson.

Reflecting on Wilson’s place in yellow and black and Fields duty in the team hosts Sharpe and Johnson highlighted Mahomes and a similar path he took, sitting behind veteran Smith in his first year before becoming a star quarterback. As Johnson noted in a recent episode of Night Cap Live Stream, “Patrick Mahomes sat behind Alex Smith for a year. There is nothing wrong with Justin Fields…sitting behind Russell Wilson and taking some of the small nuances of what it takes to be a leader.”

The parallels between Fields and Mahomes are striking. Both entered the league with tremendous potential that compelled their teams to acquire them. Fields’ time in Chicago may have been marred by inconsistency, but his talent remains undeniable. With a proven winner like Wilson to learn from, Fields has a prime opportunity to refine his skills, just as Mahomes transformed from a promising rookie to an MVP.

However, the road ahead presents its challenges. As Shannon Sharpe pointed out in the same livestream, “Patrick Mahomes came in as a rookie and Justin Fields is into his fourth year. He has been a starter for a better share of his career.” Can Fields embrace the humility to absorb lessons from Wilson after having prior starting experience? His ability to do so could shape his trajectory.

Wilson’s smarts, Mahomes’ playbook

While breaking down Mahomes’ rapid rise provides a helpful gameplan, Fields would be smart to also soak up every bit of know-how from his new mentor, Wilson. As Coach Tomlin stated, “He’s able to rally the troops, receivers, tight ends, running backs and all.” By being an attentive student of Wilson’s leadership skills and control of the game, Fields can fast-track his development as a complete quarterback.

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The value of this guidance can’t be overstated, as Mahomes himself said, “Alex Smith is the prime example. He was playing great football at [a] top level — and he was teaching me at the same time. It’s about just trying to make everybody better. We want to win every single week. That’s just how it is in the NFL. But you’re not going to, so all you can do is get better each and every week — win or [lose]”

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Fields finds himself in a unique spot, blessed with the chance to combine the lessons from Mahomes’ journey and Wilson’s championship experience. If he can strike the perfect balance – staying patient while hungrily absorbing every bit of wisdom – Fields may just forge a path that outshines even his famous forerunners.