How Eberflus helped Fields, Bears offense develop and prepare originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST — Justin Fields’ upbringing has been tremendous this offseason. Fields spent eight months in the lab changing his footwork, tightening up his execution and learning a new offense.
Bear Head coach Matt Eberflus, a brilliant defensive mind, has been a valuable resource for his young quarterback in the boardrooms.
“I think you could help on the defenses, on the clues. Where the guys are, 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 it’s helpful.
“Also, the rules – the coverage rules that people have in certain coverage. Which is difficult for the defense based on those rules. I think it’s a double education so to speak. He learns the attacking side but at Occasionally he will learn more in-depth about 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 attacking staff as they map out 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 the people. The one thing that’s fantastic about ‘Flus is that he connects with the guys He comes in and he likes to be with the guys. He’s a footballer, he likes to be with the guys in the meeting.
“We might be joking, and then, bang, out of nowhere comes this tidbit where you’re like, ‘Holy cow, I never thought of it like that from an offensive perspective. ‘ It can bring a, ‘yeah, that’s what we see in the cover. That’s what we see from you. When you do that, that’s what we expect.’ Things just come out of nowhere that you didn’t expect, which helps our knowledge base.”
Eberflus is present at all meetings. Fields noted how beneficial the head coach was in dividing coverage responsibilities for certain players into certain defenses.
As helpful as Eberflus, Getsy and Janocko have been to Fields’ growth this offseason, it’s the sophomore quarterback who has put in countless hours to get it right. Fields admits he wasn’t quite comfortable when he started rebuilding his footwork. It took time to find a rhythm and make it second nature.
This is where Getsy played a vital role.
“I mean he was great with everything. The footwork and the timing, playing on time and the little quarterback details,” Fields said. “I guess… what’s the word I’m looking for? Just the different things the quarterback plays, like different moves in the pocket, stuff like that. He knows what drills to work on, what I need to work on. He has been great. I love having him here.
The rebuilt Justin Fields will take to the field on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, the team that replaced him with the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Fields and the Bears know he’s far from a finished product. Pocket presence is still a work in progress. But Fields’ mindset has changed after a rookie year filled with struggles, some of his own making and some beyond his control. Getsy has built an offense around what Fields does well, which should help boost the confidence of a quarterback with all the tools to be an NFL star.
There’s a buzz around Halas Hall heading into Week 1. Maybe it’s that most locker rooms are brand new and don’t have accumulated scar tissue from previous failures with an old diet.
But much of the excitement centers on Fields, who was voted captain by his teammates on Monday.
Wide receiver Darnell Mooney will tell you that Fields wants to “take over the league.” Eberflus knows Fields is determined to find greatness.
For Fields, there really is no cap on what he can become. He knows that better than anyone.
“I don’t set goals because I don’t want to set limits,” Fields said.
A grueling work offseason is behind him. Now is the time for Fields and the Bears to see the fruits of their labor.