The Chicago Bears hired Luke Getsy as their new offensive coordinator in January. Everybody knew what that meant the moment it happened. He faced the difficult task of succeeding where Matt Nagy failed in 2021. Find a way to make Justin Fields a successful quarterback. It sounds like a daunting task. It is, to be fair. Making a quarterback productive in the NFL is never easy. However, it can definitely be simple. Getsy is bright, but his path forward is obvious. It is based both on his new system and the strengths of Fields.
Play action. Lots of it.
Below is a comparison of the three principal quarterbacks that played in wide zone systems last year and Fields’ play-action percentages.
- Matthew Stafford – 20.29%
- Aaron Rodgers – 20.15%
- Jimmy Garoppolo – 22.67%
- Justin Fields – 17.77%
Think about that. Stafford and Rodgers are two of the best passers in the NFL and they still threw significantly more play action passes than Fields, a rookie. The average last season for a wide zone quarterback was 21.03%, lower than in 2020. What makes this even more frustrating is Fields was excellent off of play action. He completed 35-of-57 passes for 509 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions on play fakes for the season. That works out to a 102.16 passer rating.
Justin Fields doesn’t need to be “the guy” yet.
That quarterback who can take 40 straight drop-backs a game and be expected to pile up 300 yards and three touchdowns every week. Few QBs are at that level in their second year, much less the first of a new offense. Getsy will deploy a system built to run the football well and then employ a creative package of play action plays to exploit it. This will include straight drops, bootlegs, shotgun, and run-pass options.
What should make that approach even more dangerous is Justin Fields himself, both because of his excellent deep accuracy and his mobility as a runner. The Bears employ several fast wide receivers, including Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, and Velus Jones. If not respected, any of them could burn a defense for 60 yards down the field. Play action makes them even more dangerous because safeties will have to respect the run. One wrong move and any of them could be wide open over the top.
Then on bootlegs or RPOs, Fields can recognize the defense flowing hard to the running back and simply choose the keep the ball himself with loads of space in front of him. It is such a simple and effective way to make life easy for a young quarterback.
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