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Justin Fields needs to regain his identity as an aggressive passer against Buccaneers

Nicholas Moreano Avatar
September 13, 2023

LAKE FOREST — Justin Fields only threw four passes beyond 10 yards against the Packers in the 38-20 whooping at Soldier Field last Sunday.

Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy didn’t help QB1 with all of the screen plays and emphasis on attacking the field horizontally.

But Fields was also clearly gunshy on several plays with opportunities for bigger gains downfield.

Fields said on Wednesday that he knows he missed out on some plays and wish he had some back.

“Yeah, for sure,” Fields said. “That’s one thing I talked to Luke and coach about. I felt like I was a little bit too conservative at times during the game. Definitely with guys like DJ (Moore) and Chase (Claypool) on the outside, if we do have one-on-one on the outside, potentially throwing it up and seeing what happens. With them, they’re great playmakers and they can most likely come up with a 50-50 ball. Definitely want to give them more chances deep down the field.”

Fields was then asked why he played conservatively and his answer didn’t provide reassurance on the issue.

“I’m not sure. Yeah, I don’t know,” Fields said.

The Bears need to come out this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road and devise a game plan that reestablishes Fields’ big-hunter mentality as a passer. That doesn’t only mean throwing the ball deep. It also means don’t settle for the checkdown because it’s open.

The 14-yard completion to Khalil Herbert on the Bears’ second drive is a perfect example of this. Fields delivered the ball to Herbert who moved the chains on second-and-12, but there is a clear opportunity to hit Moore for a bigger gain on the deep out. Jordan Love hit that deeper out on a similar concept on a third down later in the game to keep the Packers’ offense on the field.

Having more plays like the touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney would be a good start for the offense. Fields changed the protection at the line of scrimmage and delivered a nice vertical pass to Mooney on a wheel concept for the score.

Fields is “pretty involved” in constructing the game plan that goes on during the week, and he communicates with Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko on the plays he likes and dislikes. But this week there will be even more of an emphasis on him to be vocal on those plays. And Fields needs to go out and execute them.

After the loss to Green Bay, Fields said the lateral passes were a part of the game plan and there just needed to be better blocking on the perimeter to execute those plays. No doubt there needed to be better blocking, but there still needs to be plays built off the screens to help the offense succeed.

The Buccaneers will present a good challenge for Fields and the Bears’ offense. Tampa Bay was the second-most blitz heavy team in Week 1 against the Vikings, but were fairly ineffective at getting home in the victory against Minnesota.

Chart posted by Sam Monson: @PFF_Sam

The Bears’ offensive line struggled all game against the Packers — allowing Fields to be pressured on 53.1 percent of his drop backs. How the Bears handle Tampa Bay’s blitz will be key in the game’s end result.

The Bears collectively as an offense didn’t do their part to stress the Packers’ defense with explosive plays. That needs to change in Week 2 for the team to get back on track.

That doesn’t mean Fields is going to force the ball, either. But if he sees a matchup he likes with his skilled guys, then he will take his shot.

“I would say you could do that if it’s like one-on-one matchups to the outside and it’s one on one,” Fields said. “But you never want to force it with multiple defenders around him. Definitely one-on-ones to the outside and when the safety is in the middle of the field, I definitely can throw it up. For sure.”

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