How Matt Eberflus has helped Justin Fields, Bears' offense grow, prepare

·4 min read

How Eberflus has helped Fields, Bears' offense grow, prepare originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST – Justin Fields' education has been extensive this offseason. Fields has spent eight months in the lab changing his footwork, tightening his delivery, and learning a new offense.

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus, a brilliant defensive mind, has been a valuable resource for his young quarterback in the meeting rooms.

"I think you could help on defenses, on tells. Where guys are located, what they look like, what their demeanor is," Eberflus said Wednesday of how his background helps Fields. "I think you can do a lot of that. I think that's helpful.
 
"Also, the rules — the coverage rules people have in certain coverages. What's hard on the defense based on those rules. I think it's a dual education so to speak. He's learning the offensive side but on occasion he'll learn more in depth what the defense is doing to help him through the process."
 
Eberflus' defensive knowledge is also an asset to offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and the offensive staff as they build the plan of attack each week.
 
 "He's fantastic," quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said during training camp. "Obviously, you don't get to a position like this without knowing a lot of football and knowing people. The one thing that's fantastic about 'Flus is that he connects with guys. He comes in and he loves to be with the guys. He's a football guy. He likes to be with the guys in the meeting.

"We might be joking around, and then, bang, there comes this tidbit out of nowhere that you're like, 'holy cow, I've never thought about it like that from an offensive perspective.' He can bring a, 'yeah, this what we're seeing in coverage. This is what we see from you. When you do this, this is what we're expecting.' He just brings things out of nowhere that you're not expecting that helps our knowledge base."

Eberflus is present in all meetings. Fields noted how the head coach has been beneficial in breaking down coverage responsibilities for certain players in certain defenses.

As helpful as Eberflus, Getsy, and Janocko have been to Fields' offseason growth, it's the second-year quarterback who has been putting in countless hours to get things right. Fields admits he wasn't entirely comfortable when he started to rebuild his footwork. It took time to find a rhythm and make it second nature.

That's where Getsy has been vital.

"I mean he's been great with everything. Footwork and timing, playing on time and the little details of playing quarterback," Fields said. "I guess the... what's the word I'm looking for? Just the different things playing quarterback, like different movements in the pocket, stuff like that. He knows what drills to work, what I need to work on. He's been great. I love having him here."

The rebuilt Justin Fields will take the field Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, the team that passed on him with the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Fields and the Bears know that he's far from a finished product. The pocket presence is still a work in progress. But Fields' mindset has changed after a rookie year filled with struggles, some of his own creation and others outside his control. Getsy has built an offense around what Fields does well, which should help grow the confidence of a quarterback with all the tools to be a star in the NFL.

There's a buzz around Halas Hall as Week 1 approaches. Perhaps it's that most of the locker room is new and doesn't have built-up scar tissue from previous failures with an old regime.

But much of the excitement is centered around Fields, who was voted a captain by his teammates Monday.

Wide receiver Darnell Mooney will tell you Fields wants to "take over the league." Eberflus knows Fields is driven to find greatness.

For Fields, there truly is no ceiling to what he can become. He knows that better than anyone.

"I don't set goals because I don't want to put a limit on myself," Fields said.

An offseason of grueling work is behind him. Now, it's time for Fields and the Bears to see the fruits of his labor.

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