Justin Fields' growth leading Bears offense boils down to experience

How experience helped Justin Fields take big leap originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Over the past three weeks, Justin Fields has taken an enormous leap leading the Bears offense. The most obvious area of growth has been as a runner. Fields has always been a big playmaker, but he’s acted more decisively of late, and it’s turned into more big gains, more consistently, culminating in his NFL record-breaking 178 rushing yards against the Dolphins. Fields has also improved as a passer. Over the first six weeks, he completed 54.8% of his passes for 144 yards, 0.7 touchdowns, 0.8 interceptions and a 72.7 QB rating on a per game basis. Over the last three weeks each of those categories has improved. He completed 65.3% of his passes for 151 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0.3 interceptions and a 104.7 QB rating.

Fields always had the talent to play at this level, so why the big jump? Matt Eberflus believes a lot of it boils down to experience in a couple of senses. First, with 19 starts under his belt now, Fields is getting more and more comfortable at the NFL level.

“Of course, the more you play, the more you see things, the more you see defenses and the more you get used to just seeing different looks,” Fields said.

“This game’s all about playing,” said Cole Kmet. “It’s all about getting out there and getting reps and all those things. He’s always had confidence in himself, but I think you see him playing a little faster, and maybe more decisive. Even maybe when there isn’t a ton of pressure and he gets flushed up in the pocket, he sees a run lane and he’s hitting it way quicker. He’s very decisive on whether he’s going to run or throw.

“That’s special and that’s pretty fun to watch.”

The other part of the experience puzzle is Fields becoming more comfortable with Luke Getsy’s scheme, and Getsy becoming more comfortable with Fields’ strengths. As the two continue to grow together, so will the offense. That’s something Eberflus can feel as he watches Fields and Getsy work together over the weeks. Fields is also continuing to learn when to extend a play, and when to admit defeat and move on to the next snap.

“Main thing is not forcing the big plays, just letting them come to me,” Fields said. “Of course, I've always thought I've been able to make the big play but I think the one thing you can't do is force big plays and just kind of let them come to you.

“Just take what the defense gives you. Play every play out. Situationally, what's the down and distance? What do we need to accomplish on this play? Of course, if there is a big play there, then take it. We have certain plays where we want to call a shot, we are taking a shot down field. There's other plays where we just want to get a few yards or just get a completion."

Fields growth is fun to watch, but it also likely won’t be an arrow pointing straight up. We’re probably going to see more games this season where Fields and the offense have a tough time getting into a rhythm. There will be games where they struggle to put up points. The main thing is that Fields is starting to play more consistently, more often. The goal is to continue to reach peaks, with fewer trips to the valley. We’re starting to see that, and as Fields and Getsy continue to work together we should see it even more.

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