The situation around the Chicago Bears offense is, shall we say, pessimistic going into 2022. That is hardly a surprise. The team hasn’t had a top 15 finish since 2013 and couldn’t even crack the top 20 once in the Matt Nagy era. When you’re that bad for that long, people aren’t going to give you the benefit of the doubt. As for Justin Fields, the narrative with him regarding the media is simple. He is talented as hell but has zero help around him. No offensive line. Minimal wide receivers. An average tight end. Only the running backs are decent.
Maybe they’re being a bit harsh, but Bears fans can’t really argue. They don’t have a strong grasp of what this team has, either. Darnell Mooney is good and getting better. Cole Kmet might find more success in this new offensive system, which has been proven to elevate tight ends. They upgraded at center with Lucas Patrick and are encouraged by Teven Jenkins’ health and condition. Still, it’s hardly much to get excited about.
When it comes to Fields himself, the feeling is different.
While he can’t control the situation around him, the 23-year-old knew coming into the offseason that there was plenty to fix with his own game. If he can improve as a quarterback, the situation around him should also improve. To that end, he’s been working like mad to correct several issues that dogged him in 2021. According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Bears coaches are happy with how much progress he’s already made.
Regardless, I’m told the Bears are happy with Fields’ development this offseason, with better mechanics (quicker release) and some improvement in throwing on the move. The Bears are excited for offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s system, which should give Fields more space to operate.
“They aren’t going to be great, but he’s got big-time ability,” an NFC offensive coach said of Fields. “He’ll be able to make plays.”
One of the problems that plagued Fields last season was his tendency to hold the ball too long. Part of this was waiting to make a big play down the field, and part was his entire process being slow. His footwork was clunky, and his throwing motion had way too much of a windup. Luke Getsy made both of those an immediate focus the moment he took over the offense. Early indications from practice film confirm Fields has sped up both.
Justin Fields must do two things. Progress and survive.
That is pretty much his goal for 2022. The Bears want him to take steps forward as a legitimate passer. Master pre and post-snap processing, make better and quicker decisions and complete more passes. Most importantly, he must stop leaving himself open to so many hits. Running with the football is one thing. Fields has to be better about getting the ball to his check-downs when big plays aren’t there or throwing the ball away.
His overall production should look considerably better than last season if he does these things. Justin Fields can throw for 3,500 yards, 22 touchdowns, and nine interceptions and people should consider that a success. It would be a huge step forward in efficiency. That would then give the Bears the green light to go nuts in 2023 building around him.
They’ll have boatloads of salary cap space and a 1st round pick.
Teammates believe he is going to surprise a lot of people this year. Fans would love nothing better. Seeing Fields silence doubters despite a supposed no-win situation would be extra sweet. As always, it is about patience and trusting the process.
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