There was a lot to like about Justin Fields’ performance against the Vikings on Sunday.
No, he didn’t eclipse the 300-yard passing mark. And the Bears didn’t win the game. But we saw the second-year quarterback take some steps in the right direction. And while it is nice that the advanced analytics support what our eyes saw, it turns out ESPN grading Fields with the fourth-best QBR of Week 5 isn’t our only source of optimism.
A trio of film breakdowns caught my attention by providing examples of areas where Fields (and the Bears) got the ball rolling in a positive direction.
Justin Fields’ Growth Gets Cole Kmet Involved in the Offense
Tom Thayer’s film breakdowns have long helped me better understand football. And this week’s installment is no exception. In the 2-minute, 38-second video below, Thayer highlights how tight end Cole Kmet was able to get involved in the Bears’ offense. Kmet, who entered Week 5 with an uninspiring line of 8 targets, 5 catches, and 56 receiving yards in four games, came through with 4 catches and 45 receiving yards against the Vikings. It was his best game of the year. And, hopefully, a building block for things to come.
Kmet’s growth is important. But for me, the highlight of this clip is how Fields’ improved understanding of the offensive line protection seems to have opened things up for the offense:
Don’t get me wrong. Kmet having a breakthrough game is a critical component in getting this offense in gear. But Fields reading defenses, understanding protections, and grasping what throws will be available is a small but important step in his development.
Baldy’s Breakdown Provides Hope
Brian Baldinger’s breakdowns offer solid game analysis that, upon consumption, give me hope for the future. This clip does it for me:
And it’s not just because of the Fields-centric examples. The Bears are committed to playing complementary football. And to do that, everyone needs to chip in. We often talk about individual player development. However, players can’t grow if coaches don’t evolve. That we saw tangible improvements in coaching, decision-making, and play concepts nearly lead the Bears to a come-from-behind road win against the NFC North leaders is something I can hang my hat on as we go through this building process together.
The QB School Delivers a Double Shot of Optimism
J.T. O’Sullivan was a Saints sixth-round pick in 2002 who played 17 games in the NFL from 2002-10. He even spent some time with the Bears on their practice squad in September 2005 before the Vikings poached him onto their roster later that year. Now, O’Sullivan provides quarterback analysis at The QB School.
This week, O’Sullivan sees a new development from the Bears’ play-calling department:
If Fields is going to take the type of steps that will quiet all talk of the Bears using next year’s first-round pick on a quarterback, he’ll need some help from the coaching staff. Specifically, assistance from coaches who can scheme him into winning situations. I think every Bears fan knows that there are still bumps in the road ahead. But Fields definitely has gas in the tank to navigate it. Leave it to last week’s performance to fuel our newfound optimism.