As the Chicago Bears try to regroup following two disappointing losses, fans and media critics continue hurling blame at Luke Getsy and the offense for the team’s struggles. But that’s not the whole story.
Two NFL executives spoke with Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated on Tuesday, September 19, about why quarterback Justin Fields seems to be regressing rather than progressing as a passer during his all-important third season. While each noted there are offensive changes Getsy can employ to help Fields feel more comfortable and play more effectively, they said the Bears’ overall scheme isn’t the issue. The problem is with Fields’ inability to see it as it develops.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things. Protection isn’t great, and when he does start getting hit, he starts to drop eyes,” an AFC executive told Breer. “The biggest issue is he’s not seeing the field —he has guys open at times and doesn’t pull the trigger. On top of that, he’s had some misses.”
“They’re actually probably doing too much, in terms of pass options,” the executive continued. “It’s a good scheme. Luke was probably hoping [Fields] took the next steps in the pass game. There’s no rhythm in the offense right now because the quarterback can’t see it.”
Justin Fields Needs to Get Back to Playing Fast, on the Edge
An NFC executive also mentioned Fields dropping his eyes and failing to see the offense opening up around him. However, he was more critical of Chicago’s scheme than was his counterpart.
“It’s trying to make him a pocket passer and not doing enough to get him out on the edges where he has easier throws, because he can hurt you with his running ability,” the executive told Breer. “Everyone’s gonna play him the same — keep him in the pocket and make him feel like the rush is closing. And then his eyes will come down and he can’t find open guys. And the offensive line is not good, so he will keep feeling pressure.”
Fields had the second-most prolific rushing season for a quarterback in NFL history last year, running for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference. His carries and production as a runner are considerably down this season, with just 13 rushes for 62 yards and one score over two games.
“The Bears have to get him playing faster,” Breer wrote. “And going back to college, he always played faster when the running game was working, and he knows where he’s going with the ball.”
Bears Offensive Line Allowing Defenses to Harass Justin Fields Nearly Non-Stop
The offensive line was also a theme across the execs’ comments and there is no denying it has been among the team’s biggest problems two games into the new campaign.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sacked Fields six times on Sunday and recorded 10 quarterback hits. The Green Bay Packers got to Fields four times in Week 1 and logged six QB hits of their own. The result is an offense that has managed just 18.5 points per game across two losses, in which the Bears have been defeated by an average of two touchdowns.
A healthy Teven Jenkins, who is eligible to return from IR in Week 5, will certainly help Chicago’s cause. However, the Bears need to seriously consider adding an offensive lineman or two via free agency to patch up a porous unit that is costing the franchise wins.