Bears' Matt Eberflus talks implementing Justin Fields in run game
Eberflus talks implementing Justin Fields in run game originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
There was a point last season when the Bears started implementing Justin Fields into their rushing offense.
He progressed into a proper, dual-threat quarterback and, from there, quickly became one of the more prolific, efficient and better-rushing quarterbacks in the league.
When it was all said and done, Fields had come within 63 yards of Lamar Jackson's single-season rushing record. Fields rushed for a little over 1,100 yards, ran for eight touchdowns and broke a slew of records on his way.
When did the Bears turn Fields loose on the ground?
"Yeah, so we had that mini-bye," head coach Matt Eberflus said on the Pardon My Take podcast. "We had the Thursday game. You know, the Washington game in Chicago was that. . . "Two decent plays at the end to win it (editor's note: they lost, but had two good looks to win, including a Fields' 39-yard run). Then we looked at it."
Fields nearly sealed the game against Washington with a 39-yard run up the sideline. He was pushed out of bounds at the five-yard line. Fields nearly found Darnell Mooney at the goal line for a game-winning touchdown, but came up short.
Nonetheless, Fields' legs turned the heads of the Bears' offensive minds. They took a closer look at Fields' ability to use his legs and started designing a plan to include him more often in their ground game.
"We always do this every single week, but we look at every player and say 'Okay, what can he improve on during the course of that time?'" Eberflus said. "And then we say, 'Okay, what's going to be the plan going forward to improve him? And of course, we do that unit by unit to offense, defense and kicking.
"And we just put our heads together and said, 'Hey, let's implement some of these things that enhance his skill set and utilize his skill set. And that's what we did."
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Eberflus and Bears offensive coordinator, Luke Getsy, implemented more RPOs, direct runs and moved the pocket for Fields to have opportunities to use his legs more.
The result was successful. The Bears' offense averaged over 30 points per game over the course of the next four games.
Fields recorded 345 rushing yards combined from two games against the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions. They tapped into a gold mine and allowed Fields to run wild, literally.
Yes, the Bears finished with the worst record in the NFL by the season's end. Their offense was also below average by league standards. And Fields got banged up along the way. He suffered a shoulder and ankle injury during the season.
But, they tapped into a whole different stratosphere of offense.
Will Fields ever top his past season on the ground? Maybe, but probably not. He even said it himself, saying "I don't plan to rush for 1,000 yards every season," after he crossed the 1,000-yard threshold.
The Bears' signal-caller isn't a one-dimensional quarterback. He has multiple tools in his toolbox. Surely, he'll flex his legs with the occasional run, or scramble.
But, the Bears want him to get acclimated in the passing game, too.
"Like I've stated, you know, obviously he has things to work on like everybody else on the team does. . . So we'll see where it goes," Eberflus said.
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