Training fields

Bears QB Justin Fields, starting offense has a lot to prove against Browns

If everything was already clicking and the Bears were heading into the start of the regular season without worries, it would be prudent to hold their best players out of the preseason finale on Saturday.

But with a long way to go before this team establishes that kind of trust, they need work.

Coach Matt Eberflus said he will “absolutely” play his starters against the Browns, and many will stick around for the entire first half, including quarterback Justin Fields.

Fields wasn’t terribly bad or convincing during training camp practices and the first two games of the preseason, and the Bears could use a little more certainty with less than three weeks to go until the season opener.

Eberflus said he was looking for the attack to deliver a conclusive effort in terms of “the style of what we are looking for, the way we finish plays, the way we direct the ball” and the improvement on third trials.

Fields and the first-team offense have gone 2-for-7 in third downs against the Chiefs and Seahawks over the past two weeks. Against the Seahawks, a blocking breakdown led to Fields rushing for a yard on third-and-three. A few plays later, he threw to running back Khalil Herbert for a two-yard loss on third-and-second.

“We have to improve from the last game,” said Eberflus, who is also looking forward to seeing the starting attack perform a two-minute drill after working hard on it last month.

Fields’ performance will be central to what everyone thinks of the offense in his final live action job before he faces the 49ers on Sept. 11. And he returns to the site of his disastrous debut last season, when the Browns fired him nine times. and held the Bears to their lowest total yardage (47) since 1981.

The same questions that were asked about him and around him upon entering the camp remain unanswered:

• Can the Bears’ makeshift offensive line give him enough time to get past his first reading?

• Can a stripped-back group of receivers provide him with viable options beyond Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet?

• Above all, can Fields progress from mere strokes of genius to lead the attack coherently?

Fields needs to rise above all the gaps around him in the attack and direct it to points. While everything else has to be perfect for him to thrive, as was the case for Mitch Trubisky in 2018, that doesn’t set him apart from pedestrian quarterbacks.

Fields survived by playing in former coach Matt Nagy’s dysfunctional offense – it’s a credit to him for coming out of that game against the Browns intact and not letting it sink mentally – ​and is now in a pattern suited to his strengths. under offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. This should pave the way for him to show what he can do.

“I felt like I had to be a certain type of quarterback rather than play my game,” Fields said of last season. “I felt like I was trying to be a bit robotic, as Luke tries to follow certain rules, but . . . you have to feel it. You have to be a player on the field. You can’t really overthink the field too much. That’s my biggest change in mindset from last year to this year: just get the job done.”

This is what must happen on Saturday.

The Bears kicked all three Fields possessions against the Chiefs. Then they got a field goal on his only drive against the Seahawks, leaving points on the table after winning a first-and-10 at the Seahawks 21-yard line.

Almost seven months after new staff took over at Halas Hall and gave Fields the reset he badly needed, it’s time for him to show results.


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