Matt Eberflus expects a significant jump in performance from quarterback Justin Fields in Year 2.
The Chicago Bears head coach spoke to a small group of reporters on March 29 at the NFL’s annual owners meetings about a number of things, including what he expects to see from his second-year signal-caller.
Fields showed poise, athleticism and toughness his rookie season, but he also has plenty to work on. The 23-year-old QB completed 58.9% of his passes for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 12 games and 10 starts last year. He added 420 yards and two scores on the ground — but he also fumbled 12 times, recovering four of those.
While he was under constant pressure thanks to a porous offensive line (he was sacked 36 times in his 10 starts), he also held onto the ball a tad too long at times, and he’ll have to learn when to throw it away instead of trying to force big plays.
All things considered, Eberflus has made it known what he expects to see from Fields in Year 2.
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Eberflus: ‘Second Year Should Be a Big Jump’ for Fields
The new Bears head coach has strong expectations for Fields heading into the 2022 season.
“The development of him for the second year should be a big jump,” Eberflus said about his young QB, via the team’s official website. “It should be. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for better technique, better fundamentals, better decision-making, better timing, everything. He’s all on-board on that. He’s excited about where he is, and he’s been working his tail off. That’s what we want, just that big jump from Year 1 to Year 2.”
The second year in the NFL is a big one for all players, particularly quarterbacks, at least developmentally speaking. It’s generally the year in which the most growth is displayed.
Per PFF, “on average, the jump between Year 1 and Year 2 is the only significant change for most quarterbacks. … This doesn’t mean that all quarterbacks stop developing after Year 2, it’s just that the typical passer tends to develop in Year 2 and stay at that level.”
Thus, it’s looking like 2022 is going to be a huge one for Fields and the Bears.
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Bears Haven’t Added Any Flashy Names in Free Agency to Help Fields
The Bears have added several players in the second and third waves of free agency. They signed wide receivers Equanimeous St. Brown and Byron Pringle, fullback Khari Blasingame, offensive linemen Lucas Patrick and Dakota Dozier and quarterback Trevor Siemian to back up Fields. While Patrick and Pringle in particular seem like ascending players, the lack of big names so far has left some wondering if Fields still needs more help.
New Bears GM Ryan Poles was asked at the owners meetings about providing weapons for Fields, and he had a very practical response.
“I want to give him everything I possibly can, but you still have to construct an entire team,” Poles said, via the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs.
“You can’t go blank in one area and then just load up in one area. So we’re always going to be aggressive to get him the tools he needs to be successful. It’s just the timing and the talent level and the cap situation — all of those are going to dictate when we can go and when we can’t go. But what we’ve done so far is at least establish a little bit of growth in the roster, plus the scheme, with the coaching, I see him getting better even from what we did right now.”
Fields will be working closely with new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who promises to design an offense that plays to Fields’ strengths:
It remains to be seen what kind of jump — if any — Fields will make during his sophomore season, but there’s no question all eyes will be on him, including those of his new head coach.