Justin Fields gets new life with Bears’ improved play-calling

FMIA has partnered with NFL Next Gen Stats for a deeper look into one story each week, using motion and speed trackers on players all over each NFL field. This week: What’s gotten into Justin Fields?

In the last three weeks, the second-year Chicago quarterback has been reinvigorated by play-calling from Chicago offensive coordinator Luke Getsy that allows him to run more, to throw outside the numbers more, to throw more from play-action. The result in the last three games: The Bears have scored 94 points, Fields has rushed for 320 yards, and Fields has thrown six TDs and one interception. The Bears have beaten New England but lost to Dallas and Miami but have left the impression that they’re using the speedy and versatile Fields in a much smarter way.

The most impressive metric is Fields’ “rushing yards over expected,” particularly in his NFL quarterback record 178-yard rushing day Sunday in the 35-32 loss to Miami. By Next Gen’s tracking, Fields’ 15 carries should have netted him 65 yards. But his athletic skillset added 113 yards over the expected number. And his 88 yards after contact showed he can be a physical runner, not just one to make tacklers miss. Getsy is smart to design some runs for Fields, and to encourage him to take off running instead of forcing throws when the windows are tight. He scrambled for 61 yards on one run Sunday.

Getsy is obviously allowing Fields to use his mobility in the passing game as well. Per NGS, in the first six weekends of the season, Fields was out of the pocket or on the run on 16.5 percent of his pass attempts; in the last three weeks, it’s risen to 25 percent of his throws. He’s gained more confidence in his outside-the-numbers throws, with 58 percent of his attempts on those routes, compared to 43 percent in the first six weeks.

Smart offensive play-callers learn what their quarterback does best, running and passing, and build gameplans for their strengths. It’ll be interesting to see Fields against some good defenses down the stretch of this season—Jets, Packers, Eagles, Bills, Vikings—as the Bears continue to figure out how to maximize Fields’ talents to lead them into the future.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

Justin Fields gets new life with Bears’ improved play-calling originally appeared on NBCSports.com