Justin Fields’ numbers on Monday night don’t jump out at you as “holy cow, we’re on to something here!” But, the eye test will tell you that if Luke Getsy can continue to scheme Fields into success as he did on Monday night, we are, in fact, on to something here.
We’ve been begging since Fields took over for Andy Dalton last season to see the Bears run an offense that fits him rather than trying to fit him into an offense. And after more than a year and two coaching staffs, we finally saw it this week, and boy did it look sharp.
The first thing that jumps out at me from Monday night’s film is the designed quarterback runs that Luke Getsy implemented for Fields. According to Next Gen Stats, Fields had 12 carries on designed runs and racked up 63 yards. Fields picked up another 22 yards on non-designed runs. The package of designed quarterback runs featured multiple concepts and looks and was thoroughly impressive. Let’s take a look at some of the looks and discuss them.
(Note: For some reason when I watched the video on my end the YouTube embed auto selects the lowest resolution quality. If that happens for you, click the settings gear on the bottom and click a higher resolution. The All-22 this week wasn’t great as is, but I’m trying to find a solution here.)
Here we have a designed run in the first quarter where the Bears are lined up in 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) with Cole Kmet on the left side of the line and Velus Jones Jr. in the slot. Jones goes in motion before the snap to give the play the appearance of a jet sweep to the right, which freezes Matthew Judon and allows Fields to take off left.
Also noteworthy in this play, we’ve got Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom kicking left to Fields’ side of the play because Jones and Montgomery are going right on the fake. Jenkins takes the outside while Borom pairs with Cole Kmet on a double team, and Fields has a hole and a solid gain inside the red zone.
Two plays later Fields scores the Bears’ first touchdown of the game on another designed run. This one has a similar element with Velus Jones Jr. sweeping right, but this time the Bears are in a tighter formation with David Montgomery out wide on the right side and Kmet lined up on the right.
Everyone thought the play was going to the right side. But Fields takes off left, and when he sees the hole created by his blocking wide receivers, he sticks his foot in the ground and explodes ahead for the score.
Let’s look at two more variations that Getsy used on Monday night.
First, we’ve got the Bears lined up with Montgomery and Trestan Ebner in the backfield. Ebner goes in motion pre-snap to the right and runs a screen while Montgomery heads up the middle and blocks the linebacker allowing Fields to get upfield behind him for a solid gain.
Then we’ve got a zero personnel look.
In this formation, the Bears have Khalil Herbert out wide on the left side, as well as Dante Pettis and Equanimeous St. Brown blocking. From there, Fields takes it to the outside with Herbert serving as a lead blocker.
The Bears didn’t do anything we haven’t seen before, they just did things that we haven’t seen here before. And it gave the Patriots enough things to think about that Fields was able to use one of his best skills successfully all night.
My only gripe with this is why we had to wait six weeks to see this installed into the offense. We’ve known for a month that the offensive line was more successful in run protection, and we’ve known for years that Fields should be a part of the run design. The easy — and logical — answer is that a first-time coaching staff wanted to wait until they mini-bye to make changes like this, which I’m okay with as long as it wasn’t a one-off gameplan for the Patriots.
The other thing that worked well for Fields and the Bears was the play-action and rollout designs that allowed Fields to get outside. It wasn’t always a design that had Fields altogether abandoning the pocket to the left or right; sometimes, all they did was shift the pocket to one side of the hashes or the other to change Fields’ launch point.
On this 16-yard completion to Darnell Mooney, you’ll see Fields move his launch point to the left. The Bears are running double deep curls, and Fields finds Mooney for the completion. Fields did an excellent job of getting that read quickly, planting his feet, and firing a zip of a throw to Mooney.
Here’s another example of slightly moving the launch point:
Kmet motions pre-snap right and provides Borom with a double-team on Matthew Judon long enough for two things to happen: 1) Fields gets to the right hashes, and 2) Mooney is wide open thanks to the rub play causing Myles Bryant and Jonathan Jones to collide.
This is one of my favorite plays in the game. I’ve been knocking Fields for missing open receivers deep all season, and it’s been valid every time. In this play, Fields escapes the pocket and has the check down in front of him, but a pump fakes the checkdown because he sees St. Brown with his arm up and no Patriots defender to be found.
One more for today. And this one is another thing I’ve knocked Fields for all season: Getting through his reads faster.
The Bears have two receivers running in routes, N’Keal Harry running a hitch route, and Fields is able to get to Harry — who was his second read — quickly and deliver a strike to the former Patriots wideout.
Again, that’s real progress from Fields as a passer!
So, while the box score numbers for Fields on Monday night were good, but not the sexy we want long-term — you know, the kind that Joe Burrow put together on Sunday, as one example — the film shows growth by Fields as a passer, and growth by Getsy as a play-caller, and that’s a massive step in the right direction.