MINNEAPOLIS — When the Bears lose more games this season, and they definitely will, let Sunday’s 29-22 loss to the Vikings be a good blueprint to follow.
Of course, that doesn’t mean committing a delay of game penalty on the first offensive play or fumbling the ball during a two-minute drive to end the game.
No, the blueprint needs to incorporate Justin Fields airing the ball out and involve an aggressive coaching mindset to potentially give the offense more opportunities. In the second half, Bears coach Matt Eberflus called for an onside kick (which didn’t work) after Velus Jones. Jr scored his touchdown and the offense went for it on fourth-and-4 and converted on the next drive, which ended in a field goal.
“I love it personally,” Fields said. “I think it’s confidence in us. I think he believes in us too. If we do get that onside kick, it gives us momentum. It shows if you don’t get it, he trusts in the defense, so I think it gives us confidence. The two-point play, confidence, it shows confidence in us. His belief in our execution.”
As a result, Fields had his best game of the season. When Fields was asked if this game was the most comfortable he felt, he said, “I would say so.” He trusted the pocket and made throws to his playmakers, finishing 15 of 21 for 208 yards and the passing touchdown to Jones. When the offensive line broke down, he used his legs and led the team in rushing with 47 yards on eight attempts. He also had a 52-yard touchdown run come back due to a penalty.
“Operation was really good by Justin,” Eberflus said. “Justin had one of the best days of his career.”
Fields’ performance also stacked up as one of the best in several passing categories in Week 5. Out of 30 quarterbacks who played on Sunday, Fields finished third in passer rating (118.8), fifth in completion percentage (71.4) and seventh in longest completed air distance (48.5), according to Next Gen Stats.
The offensive line and the overall protection also deserves credit. Fields had 2.86 seconds for time to throw – the eight best in Week 5.
“We certainly recognized that. It was cleaner, he had time to deliver, he could see down the field without being in a rush and ride the pocket like we talked about last week,” Ebeflus said. “That’s definitely an encouraging thing to see.”
Also how Fields represented himself in the postgame press conference was encouraging. He didn’t shy away from answering questions or respond with two-word answers like he did earlier in the week.
He even cracked a smile at one point.
Yes, the Bears lost and have now fallen to 2-3. But let’s all remember what this season is really about: the quarterback.
So as long as Fields keeps showing positive signs in different areas of his game throughout the year — even in a losing effort — that still is a scenario most Bears Fans can be happy about.