Fields ‘ahead of pace’ learning offense, has impressed OC Getsy originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST — Justin Fields’ growth will be the defining topic of Year 1 of Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus’ Bears rebuild.
The Bears went defense with their first two picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and only drafted one wide receiver out of 11 selections. Poles and Eberflus have said all the right things regarding Fields, and it’s fair to assume they believe the dynamic signal-caller will make a Year 2 leap simply by transitioning into offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s quarterback-friendly system.
Getsy, who coached under Matt LaFleur in Green Bay, plans to build his offense around Fields’ strengths. Given LaFleur comes from the Shanahan tree, you expect a lot of outside zone runs and bootlegs that get Fields on the move and play to what the young QB does best.
Learning a new offense is a process, but Fields is further along than expected at this point in the offseason.
“We’re working through this thing step by step,” Getsy said Sunday after the final day of Bears rookie minicamp. “You know we’re making sure that we master, in order to be able to master our craft, we have to master each step. So we’re just, we’re staying on track. I think he’s, if anything, ahead of pace.”
Much of the conversation surrounding Fields’ growth this offseason has centered on the Bears’ lack of top receiver talent. Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, and rookie Velus Jones Jr. are projected to be Fields’ top-four receivers entering the season.
Not exactly a bomb squad.
Getsy understands fans’ anxiety about the receiver position and how it might impact Fields. But the Bears offensive coordinator sees this as an opportunity for guys like St. Brown to elevate their game. To Getsy, the biggest issue facing the Bears’ receiving corps is not a lack of talent but a lack of chemistry with Fields. That’s something that’s being worked on religiously.
“I think we have enough guys on this team that have played a lot of ball in the league,” Getsy said when asked about the receiver issues hurting Fields’ growth. “I think it’s just that experience of playing with the quarterback and teaching him the body language, the signals you want to send to him when you’re ready to make a break. You can see that happening every single day, how much more comfortable these guys are getting.
“Justin is getting with those guys. So, I’m excited. It’s been getting better every single day. I’m excited to see where these guys can go.”
The most important thing for Getsy and Fields is to be on the same page as quarterback and play-caller. That’s where the offensive coordinator has seen a leap from the young quarterback this offseason.
“The play-caller and the quarterback have to have a great relationship, and that’s important,” Getsy said. “We have to be on the same page, always. That’s where I’ve felt like he’s grown, is he’s communicating with me so well now, things that he’s feeling, things that he sees, and so that part of it has just been tremendous, for a young guy to be able to do that.”
Poles, Eberflus, Getsy, and Fields have a lot of work to do as they rebuild the Bears.
There are several ways to engineer a successful rebuild. But any architect will tell you that you must nail the most essential part if you are to complete the rebuild — the quarterback.
“I’ve been super impressed with him. I really have,” Getsy said of Fields. “There’s no one in this building that works harder than him. There’s no one that cares more than him. We’re off to a great start. He’s really accepted this challenge.”
It will be an uphill climb for the Bears to get back to legitimate playoff contention. It starts with Fields. Having a quarterback who is first in, last out sets the tone for the entire franchise and is a key building block in crafting a successful new offense.
So far, so good for Fields and Getsy. But the real work is just beginning.