Do Bears ‘trust’ Fields to throw more after loss vs. Packers? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The 2022 Bears‘ season is all about the growth and development of quarterback Justin Fields. General manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Eberflus would like to exit the 2022 campaign knowing for sure if Fields is their franchise signal-caller or not.
The lack of offseason moves to solidify the offensive line and add reliable pass-catchers would seem to point to the regime’s overall uncertainty toward Fields. I’ve argued that hiring offensive coordinator Luke Getsy to run a wide-zone, bootleg-heavy offense tailored to Fields’ skill set pointed to the opposite.
We’re only two games into the season, and those questions about whether or not this regime believes in Fields already are about to engulf the first year of the Bears’ rebuild.
During Sunday night’s 27-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, Fields threw the ball just 11 times despite the Bears trailing by double digits for more than half the game.
That would seem to point to a lack of trust in the second-year signal-caller.
Eberflus, however, is adamant that’s not the case.
“Yeah, oh yeah. We trust him for sure,” Eberflus said Monday.
“Like I said last night, I just think you need balance. At the end of the day, we’d like to be 50/50 in a game that you’re able to do that and we want to have balance for sure cause it keeps the defense honest for sure.”
With David Montgomery gashing the Packers on the ground, the Bears elected to lean on the run game despite being in chase mode for most of the game.
Fields also looked hesitant after the Bears’ opening seven-play, 71-yard touchdown drive.
The Ohio State product has only played one good half of football this season. It delivered the Bears a Week 1 win over the San Francisco 49ers, but he has looked shaky to open his second season.
So far on the year, Fields has the longest average time to throw in the NFL (3.26 seconds) and has the second-highest off-target throw percentage in the NFL at around 30 percent.
The poise and mental strength Fields showed in brushing off his poor first half in Week 1 to lead the Bears to a win didn’t show up Sunday in Green Bay.
He completed 7-of-11 passes for 70 yards and an interception. He missed Equanimeous St. Brown on a wide-open go route in the third quarter.
There’s no question he has been under pressure. The pass protection hasn’t been good. But Fields has the talent to negate that. He didn’t Sunday night.
That his coaches only asked him to throw the ball 11 times in a game they trailed by double digits in for 34 minutes is a massive red flag.
“Yeah, so we’re looking at that,” Eberflus said of the Bears’ struggling passing game. “I think that it is a concern. We want to get better there. We want to improve. There’s no question.”
Eberflus said Fields looked comfortable at times in Green Bay. Those times seemed few and far between.
But Fields isn’t the only issue with the Bears’ passing attack.
Wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet have been non-existent through two games. Kmet has yet to catch a ball, and Mooney has two catches for a grand total of 4 yards.
It’s fair to expect Fields to play a lot better. It’s also fair to say he needs help from his best skill guys. That starts with the Bears finding a way to put Kmet and Mooney in position to get the ball and make plays.
“I think you got to highlight your skill,” Eberflus said. “You got to highlight your skill. Like we highlighted D-Mo last night running the football. He’s a good runner. We have good run blockers. We highlighted that last night and that was a positive coming out of the game.
“So, in the passing game, let’s highlight our skill. Let’s feed the guys that have skill that can take a short throw and turn it into a big gain, that can go downtown. And we have a good deep ball thrower so we should utilize that too. And we’re going to look at all aspects of that.”
Everything we’ve seen from Fields and the Bears’ passing game so far should have alarms blaring in Chicago. He needs to be better. Full stop. Getsy also has to get more inventive with his play-calling. Both are more than capable of doing so.
If the Bears really do trust Fields to throw the ball more than 10 times a game, they’d be wise to let him do it. Otherwise, this season may wind up being a complete lost cause.
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