Shortly after Matt Eberflus became a Bears coach, one of the first topics he covered was Justin Fields’ passing fundamentals, specifically regarding how fast the ball should come out of his way. hand.
“I think it’s a matter of footwork and then timing,” Eberflus said. “The footwork and the timing. There should be a clock on every drop he takes.
“There’s the drop, the step count, then there’s a snag and a second snag. And the ball has to be out of his hands on the first or the second. Based on coverage and based on the call. ”
As a result, the focus has been on Fields’ footwork and delivery in practices this offseason. Getting the ball out faster being a major point, a major assumption was that the Bears would only give Fields a few seconds in practices to get going before qualifying a sack play and moving on to the next.
This would be the clock that Eberflus originally mentioned.
There hasn’t been a real clock, or even anyone calling a game a sack.
In fact, coaches usually gave Fields plenty of time to get out of his shots, even though they thought he had improved his delivery and got passes quicker.
The reason for a lack of clockwork may point to how coaches have adapted to what they see as one of Fields’ strengths.
They now recognize that the quarterback they have is accurate on the field and more capable of hitting big shots after a downplay.
In OTAs and minicamps, they let Field throw well past the normal time a passer would have in a game, as he drifted out of the pocket or moved into it.
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They held some scrambling drills, but they also let the plays go on so the receivers and Fields got a better feel for that aspect of the game on their own.
Asked about his approach for the stoppage of play training camp, Eberflus said he had no problem continuing with the OTAs and minicamp approach.
“I would say we let the game down,” Eberflus said. “Even though a defensive lineman might come through and he might get sacked, we let him down because we want to work on our scrambling drill on both sides (attack and defense), you know? So we want that ‘they react naturally, throw the ball, one, two, throw the ball, and if it goes down, let’s go and draft, OK, and work on our jamming coverage and our routes and our guys open up too.
“So you’ll never hear me breathe an ‘Oh, it’s a bag,’ unless I want it to be a bag for downhill and distance purposes. As a general rule, I’ll just let it unfold .”
Fields has found a number of different receivers this way in practice, from Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle to fullback Khari Blasingame and running back Khalil Herbert.
Their pass defense has always had issues with Aaron Rodgers in such situations and that will provide additional preparation for those challenges.
Obviously, fields and receivers will improve as they work longer games. He had 420 rushing yards last year while taking only about 57% of the team’s offensive snaps.
There is every reason to wonder what he could do if he runs more and passes more during the scrambling exercise.