Justin Fields Should Continue to Follow the Lamar Jackson Playbook (Literally and Figuratively)
In 2021, I thought Lamar Jackson and the Ravens could provide a template for how Matt Nagy could use Justin Fields.
One year later, Bears Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy “stole” plays from the Ravens, gave them to Fields, and opened up the offense. By the end of the year, Fields had his eyes on breaking Lamar’s QB rushing record. Sure, Fields fell a few yards short of reaching the mark. But he still ran for more than 1,000 yards and set a new Bears franchise rushing record for a quarterback.
All that to say this: Seeing how the Ravens use Jackson feels like it could be worth watching. There aren’t too many dual-threat quarterbacks who can sling it and run it like Lamar. But Fields has similarly loud tools. Hence, my interest in finding ways the Bears offense can replicate what is happening in Baltimore. This is why I found what Jackson is saying about the Ravens offense notable from a Bears fan’s point of view.
When asked what he expects from the new-look Ravens offense led by play-caller Todd Monken, Jackson’s reply, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, was a simple “less running and more throwing.”
Jackson expects to throw more and run less in the Ravens’ new offense. And, frankly, I expect the same out of the Bears’ offense in 2023.
Heck, Fields expects it, too.
Remember what he said during Super Bowl week?
“I was just trying to run around and make things happen out of busted plays,” Fields explained while answering a question about what caused him to run more after being known as a pocket passer in college. “I think this year I just had to use my legs a little bit more to put points up on the board. But hopefully this coming year and the rest of my career I won’t have to run as much.”
For all the misconceived notions about Fields being a running back masquerading as a quarterback, let the record reflect that Fields would rather be throwing it. Running as much as he did last year was the residue of trying to make something out of nothing. Think about it. Dante Pettis, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Velus Jones Jr. were Fields’ top three receiver options for most of the year. That trio now represents the team’s depth options at the position. Again, the Bears made notable changes to their WRs room. There is no way your front office adds pass-catchers (DJ Moore, Robert Tonyan, Tyler Scott) and protection (Darnell Wright, Nate Davis) in the offseason just to scheme up more designed runs.
Many of Fields’ runs last year were out of necessity. A crumbling pocket and receivers who fail to create separation often left Fields no choice but to tuck it and run. This isn’t to say that there weren’t times when Fields pulled it down too early. And there were definitely moments in which Fields could’ve taken an extra split second to go through his reads. But there were so many times when Fields was in survival mode or in a place to do whatever it takes to gain the yards in an attempt to win at all costs. Hence, I understand why Fields was running as often as he did last year.
But with that being said, I fully expect the dynamic of the offense to change. There is an influx of new talent surrounding Fields at Halas Hall. This should keep Fields from scrambling to survive. If it does, then the Bears’ offense will look different this year. And I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out.