Justin Fields’ Best Non-Touchdown Plays From Saturday
On the same field where Justin Fields was sacked nine times in his NFL debut last season, Justin Fields was as good as you could ask for on Saturday. Fields looked calm, cool, and collected as he completed 14-of-16 passes for 156 yards, three touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 146.9. Fields and the first team offense marched down the field for three touchdowns in five possessions in their final dress rehearsal.
Let’s get the “it’s only preseason” caveat out of the way right now. Yes, it was the preseason. No, that doesn’t mean that we can’t be excited about some of the things that we saw from Justin Fields and the Bears’ first-team offense on Saturday.
The trio of touchdowns that Justin Fields tossed on Saturday got plenty of run in highlight packages, but there were some things that didn’t end in six that made the overall performance pretty darn inspiring, and that’s what we’re going to discuss here.
Fields Extends the Play, Hits Pettis for 1st Down
My favorite play from Saturday wasn’t a touchdown. Instead, it was a play that showed the type of danger that Justin Fields can present to an opposing defense with continued growth.
On a 3rd & 9 early in the second quarter, Fields took a shotgun snap and made his reads. When Jordan Elliott gets past Cody Whitehair on Fields’ blindside, Fields reverses and escapes towards the left sideline. With the potential sack escaped and the play extended, Fields gets his eyes downfield almost immediately. Fields then finds Dante Pettis open along the sideline and nails him for a first down to keep the drive alive.
The feel for the pocket, the decision to move and extend, the eyes downfield, the throw, it was all a chef’s kiss moment for Justin Fields.
Fields Hits Khalil Herbert for First Down
Screen passes were one thing we were deprived of during the Matt Nagy era (and well beyond). We saw plenty of it on Saturday.
In this particular play, Fields scans the options downfield and decides to dump it down to Khalil Herbert. Still, the decision and outcome were only possible thanks to the impressive adjustment Fields made to manipulate his arm slot on the throw. Fields is an over-the-top thrower, but with the pass rush getting home to his right, Fields fires a three-quarter bullet to Herbert just behind the outstretched hand of Browns defensive end Curtis Weaver.
Herbert picks up 14 yards and a first down and gets the Bears into field goal range on an eventual touchdown drive.
Quick Reads by Justin Fields
Getting better at the RPO will be critical in Fields’ development, and he was pretty good at it on Saturday. On the Bears broadcast on FOX 32, Jim Miller pointed out the positioning of Fields’ feet on an RPO in the first quarter, and again here in the second quarter, Miller’s observation can be seen.
Fields has his back foot set up for a quick throw if that’s the read he makes, and when he sees eight Browns defenders converging on the middle, he quickly decides to hit Isaiah Coulter on the screen pass to the left.
The result of the play wasn’t a huge gain, but the process and the increased speed of Fields’ decisions were impressive.
Spreading It Around
Justin Fields completed passes to 10 different receivers, and all three touchdowns were to a different receiver, with two going to tight ends. Fields and the Bears were spreading the ball all over the place, and I think that this play early in their second drive of the day was pretty crucial to their success on the day.
Luke Getsy got Khari Blasingame involved early and often in this one, and he hauls in a catch from Fields on a designed bootleg with a play fake to Montgomery. Blasingame gets the first down yardage and fights for more by dropping his shoulder into Martin Emerson. I can get used to that this season.
Ok, so this one isn’t a Justin Fields highlight, but the play-calling by Luke Getsy and personnel usage were just as impressive today.
Here we’ve got Getsy getting Khari Blasingame involved in the run game, leading the way for David Montgomery on a big run that would be called back on a hold by Ryan Griffin. Still, seeing Getsy get Blasingame out in front of Montgomery will hopefully be a big part of the running game this season. Blasingame has been clearing holes for Derrick Henry in Tennessee for the last three seasons, and he could be a big boost to David Montgomery’s game here in Chicago.
Fields’ Had the Touch
Before we get out of here today, let’s talk about the touch that Fields showed on some of his throws. The key to success on the bevy of RPO, screen pass, and quick tosses that we saw were fueled by Fields’ ability to get the ball high and low and take something off when necessary, and zip it when he had to.
You can see in this video below that Fields uses a high touch pass to get the ball over the outstretched hand of D’Anthony Bell and into the hands of Nsimba Webster on the quick out.
Fields threw a dart in between the coverage on the touchdown to Ryan Griffin. On the touchdown to Pettis, it was a touch pass to the sideline. The no-look to Pettis that we discussed earlier in this story was a dart over the corner in zone to the sideline. It was hard not to notice how smooth Fields operated today in many different things.