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Hoge's Bears Things: Why Justin Fields' footwork is unlikely to change

Adam Hoge Avatar
September 22, 2023

Good morning, Bears fans

We made it to another Friday. And what a week it has been. If it’s OK with you, I’d love to just talk some football in today’s Bears Things newsletter.

Obviously much was made this week of Justin Fields’ comments on his own play and how it has been impacted by coaching. I maintain that what Fields said was healthy and it honestly made me excited to see how he plays differently Sunday in Kansas City. 

“Different” is a keyword in this discussion. Will Fields play “freely” in a more instinctual way on game day, or will there be concrete mechanical differences that were ironed out during the week? 

I hope it’s the former. The last thing Fields needs is more mechanics to worry about.

That said, I did wonder about possible footwork changes.

Here’s why:

Before Luke Getsy arrived last year, Fields always played with his right foot forward in the shotgun. Getsy flipped that footwork, and it’s something Fields has had to adjust to. Earlier this week on CHGO, Tim Jenkins — whose full time job is coaching quarterbacks at Jenkins Elite — questioned Fields’ footwork and explained why it matters. 

“It’s so frustrating because I think Justin is talented, but at some point you have to sit there and you go, hey we forced this kid, who we’re trying to get to speed up, to now play with uncomfortable footwork and we’re wondering why he’s playing slower,” Jenkins said. “I’m just like, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist.”

Thursday, I asked Getsy if he would consider changing Fields’ footwork back to how it used to be. His answer was interesting:

“I would never do that,” Getsy said. “If you look at Nate Peterman, he tried it, didn’t like it, so he’s right-foot forward. Justin loves it. He loves the timing, the rhythm of it all. So … that’s not something you reflect on and say that’s the issue or whatever you want to say. Because he loves the timing, the rhythm. His feet lead him to each progression to the throw.”

I’ll be honest: I hadn’t noticed that Peterman’s footwork was the opposite of Fields’. That’s a loaf on my part. For what’s worth, Tyson Bagent has his left foot forward now, which is a change from college. His Shepard film shows that he used to have his right foot forward. 

Here’s how it looked for the three quarterbacks in the preseason:

Personally, I loved Getsy’s answer, because it, A) He’s not going to force a quarterback to use his preferred methods if they aren’t comfortable with it, and B) Fields evidently is comfortable with the current footwork. 

“I believe in left foot forward, but if it stopped a player from feeling they can play at the best level of their ability, then I would never force somebody into a technique or style I believe in that didn’t match who they are or what they are,” Getsy said. 

Jenkins responded to Getsy’s comments Thursday with this:

I greatly respect Jenkins’ input on the subject (he definitely knows more about quarterback footwork than I do), but I also think this is somewhat of a lose-lose situation for a coach. Either the coach isn’t willing to conform to his players’ talents or he’s sacrificing his own beliefs

The reality is that football isn’t black and white. You have to live in the gray as a coach. 

The same can be said for quarterback play. You can draw it up in black and white in the playbook and run it in practice, but that’s not what it looks like in a game. 

For Justin Fields, he needs to go back to playing in the gray. He needs to trust his own instincts and amazing God-given talents. If he can do that, the results should be much better than they’ve been through two weeks of this season. 

Up Next: Hopefully some entertaining football. Will DeWitt and Nicholas Moreano will break down this Bears-Chiefs game on today’s CHGO Bears Podcast at Noon CT. Our pregame coverage starts at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday and we’ll be there for postgame as soon as the game ends. Apparently the message this week is “shock the world.” That would be a heck of an ending to a tumultuous week

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