Fields Film: A Bitter Cold Learning Experience

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Fields Film: A Bitter Cold Learning Experience

Chicago Bears

In a frigid Week 16 contest with the Buffalo Bills, Justin Fields and the Bears offense had no answers for the Bills defensive game plan. Chicago will have to be better at adjusting in the future.

That said, Fields didn’t hurt the Bears by trying to force things that weren’t there, and he made the simple plays, something that Matt Eberflus emphasized for the final leg of the season a couple of weeks ago.

By the Numbers

  • 11: Justin Fields’ 11 rushing yards in Week 16 was his lowest output of the season and the fewest rushing yards he’s finished a start with since October 10 of last year against the Raiders when he finished with four yards on three carries.
  • 92.5: Despite not getting much going offensively, Fields finished with a 92.5 passer rating, marking the sixth game this season north of 90.0.
  • 5: Fields hooked up with Cole Kmet five times on Saturday, marking the third game this season in which Fields and Kmet have hooked up at least five times.

Film Room

We’ll start where we left off last week in this space with Justin Fields making the simple plays that he must continue to make if he’s going to take the next step as a passer. First, we’ve got a simple over route by Byron Pringle, who finds space in the zone coverage, and Fields finds and hits him for the “easy” 20-yard completion.

Those types of plays are so important because it’s a schematic staple for a quarterback of Justin Fields’ skillset or any modern-day NFL quarterback skill set. Play fake left, roll right and change the launch point while the routes are coming back that way after they release their initial blocks on the misdirection on the play fake. You see this all the time across the league, but the elite ones make it look like a drop in the hat, like Fields did on this particular play.

Same drive, similar theory here; taking the simple stuff and executing it. Fields is in the gun in 11 personnel and has some pre-snap motion with Pringle. If you stop this video at the four-second mark, you will see the type of fits that defenses have game planning for Justin Fields.

Taron Johnson (No. 7) is frozen. He has Cole Kmet and Dante Pettis running crossers, and his eyes are locked on Fields. The outside corner covers Pringle’s over route, and Pettis is wide open for the touchdown.

Defenses are so worried about Fields taking off and scoring with his legs in this territory that he should hardly ever have to resort to it. This was mass confusion for Buffalo’s defense in a game in which they had a solid plan for Fields in every other part of the field (and executed it well).

Unfortunately, the highlights end there for Fields and the entire Bears offense in this game. As I said, Matt Eberflus pointed out on Monday that Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Fraizer had an excellent plan, and his guys executed it and bottled-up Justin Fields. But, unfortunately, there were also a few blatant drops by his receivers, like this one from the usually sure-handed Cole Kmet.

Here we have another example of the Bills’ success in keeping Fields contained and adjusting as the game went on. Again, the Bills don’t bite on the misdirection on the play fake right and boot left, the left side of the field is sealed up, and nothing is cooking for Fields downfield through the air with his deep option double covered.

Nothing you can do there but tip your cap to Leslie Fraizer and his guys.

The lone offensive highlight of the second half was Justin Fields’ 44-yard dot to Velus Jones Jr. on a drive that ended in another turnover on downs and no points.

It was a pretty throw where only VJJ could get it. It was also nice to see VJJ getting some run in the receiving game this week. With the receiver’s room dealing with multiple injuries, the third-round draft pick, whose career is already teetering on life support, should get a heaping serving of looks during the final two games.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t a whole lot to take away from this game. It was brutally cold, and the Bills flat out came ready for the assignment of stopping Justin Fields. Fields didn’t do anything wrong; he stuck to the game plan and took what was there. But aside from the VJJ deep shot, it was a pretty vanilla day with almost no sustained success for Fields or the unit.

Take the good (the schematic staple plays being executed with ease), clean up the bad (the drops, missed throws), and figure out how to adjust from a play-calling standpoint when the guys on the opposite sideline clearly have your number.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.