LAKE FOREST — Despite the Bears having a 3-12 record and no shot of making the playoffs, the organization is still set on starting Justin Fields for the final two games of the 2022 regular season.
Bears coach Matt Eberflus explained his reasoning to keep playing the second-year quarterback.
“Because we got to get better,” Ebeflus said. “We want to improve. We want to get our team, we want to see where we are. These last few games matter. They’re division opponents to us. Very important to our football team to see the competition, to see guys compete against their division, and I think it’s important for each man and it’s important for each unit and it’s important for our whole football team.”
The Bears will face the Lions on the road this Sunday and host the Vikings for the 2022 season finale at Soldier Field. In the first meeting against Minnesota that ended in a 29-22 loss, Fields finished 15 of 21 for 208 passing yards and threw one touchdown pass. He also added 47 yards rushing on eight attempts. Against the Lions in Week 10, Fields had 314 total yards (167 passing and 147 rushing) and four touchdowns (two passing and two rushing) in the 31-30 loss.
With these games being the second matchup of the season, this gives offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and Fields opportunities to correct their mistakes from the previous games. Also, the two can prepare for any adjustments the defenses will have for Fields.
Against the Bills on Saturday, Buffalo held Fields to his lowest rushing total of the season – with just 11 yards on seven attempts and seven of those yards occurred on one run.
“They did a couple good things,” Eberflus said. “They had a couple spies on him in the passing game, for sure. It could have been where the defensive lineman was popping out of there, or it was one of the linebackers, did a couple of nice things there. Dropped a couple safeties in also to spy on him that way. It was overall a good plan, nothing out of the ordinary. I thought that Leslie (Frazier) did what he normally does, played good, sound, fundamental fast football. That’s what I saw.”
Eberflus also said what the Bills did defensively wasn’t anything different than what they have played against this season. With the NFL being a copycat league, it would make sense for the Lions and Vikings to try and replicate how the Bills contained Fields’ ability to run.
Fields should gain valuable experience when playing defenses that adjust to his style of play. Also, the previous two games against the Lions and Vikings were one-score losses. And there were plenty of opportunities in both matchups to come away with a victory, but a lack of execution from the team prevented that from happening.
So even though the Bears’ 2022 season will end after these next two games, Ebeflus still believes they provide plenty of importance for the young team moving forward.
“They’re getting close to really understanding how to finish the game and you finish with game-defining execution,” Eberflus said. “That’s what you finish with. You finish in those moments that the plays when they matter in the fourth quarter, we execute. And to me, these next two games are just about that. Being able to execute in those game-defining moments, those plays that matter and getting it done. And to me, that’s important going forward to the future.”