Sometimes it seems like Justin Fields teaches Bears coaches as much as Bears coaches teach Justin Fields. Without a doubt, both sides are learning as the rookie quarterback’s painstaking development awaits a watershed moment.
“We got into the Cleveland game and we probably put too much on his plate mentally, in terms of decision making,” said coach Matt Nagy, referring to the debacle against the Browns in Fields for the first started in Week 3, when he was sacked nine times and threw for 68 yards in a 26-6 loss. “We reduced that and it helped him. He did a very good job.
“I think what we do is we find shots that we see well in the offense, so we want to do more.”
Fields’ progress so far has been gradual. After throwing for 209 yards and averaging 12.3 yards per attempt against the Lions after the Browns game, Fields limited himself to flashes here and there – just 111 yards and 5.6 yards per attempt against the Raiders. ; 174 yards and 6.4 yards per attempt against the Packers on Sunday. You still have to squint to see future greatness.
But Nagy insists he sees progress that might not be so easily noticeable with the naked eye.
“There are concepts and progressions that he goes through where he improves,” Nagy said, “and not everyone will know that because you don’t know all the concepts and progressions. ‘improved [them]. He learns from all his mistakes and he grows thanks to the good games he makes by doing it more.
Nagy and quarterbacks coach John DeFelippo pointed to Fields’ improved ability to read defenses and make decisions from what he sees – essentially playing quarterback – as indicators that Fields will eventually get there.
“His overall decision making has been pretty good, and it’s increasing,” Nagy said. “Once he gets better and better, the athletic stuff of playing and throwing is going to come.”
Nagy pointed to a pair of three-game streaks as proof that Fields is progressing. On the first practice, he made a tough pitch on an 11-yard pass to Darnell Mooney near the left sideline. He followed that up with another precise throw, which fell perfectly between two defenders for a 20-yard finish to Allen Robinson. And then a deep throw to Marquise Goodwin who drew a penalty for pass interference on Packers cornerback Isaac Yiadom for a gain of 26 yards on the 1 yard line.
“His second and third level shots have improved every week – it’s the # 1 thing that stands out,” DeFilippo said. “When he cut that loose post [on the Goodwin pass interference play] and I saw that with the security cheating towards the left hash – it was a real, real game. ”
The other three-part series took place in the third quarter. Fields controlled running back Khalil Herbert for an eight-yard gain, gave Damiere Byrd a quick throw on a smoky road Byrd dropped. And an 11-yard throw to Mooney on an RPO. Modest results, but a good sign, Nagy said.
“Decision making was different,” Nagy said. “These were [quarterback] the decisions. I loved it.
Nagy also pointed out that the Bears’ 10-game, 80-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter was a sign of things to come.
“We were challenged with different things inside of that – whether it was a run, a decision making, a pitch,” Nagy said. “It was one of the best practices of the season – and definitely, I think, Justin’s best. This is what turns you on. Now we need to do more. And how do we get it? “
It’s a good question. Not only how, but in how long?