Fields identifies one key area he must improve in Year 3


Justin Fields has zeroed in on a specific area to work on this offseason.

Short throws.

The Chicago Bears quarterback established himself as a dynamic running threat this past season, nearly breaking the single-season rushing record by a quarterback. It's his completion percentage and performance as a passer that has come under scrutiny.

Some of it has been explained away because he plays behind a bad offensive line, lacks a true No. 1 wide receiver and weapons in the passing game, and general injuries to the weapons he did have last season.

But after two seasons and 25 starts, Fields is completing a hair under 60 percent of his passes. 59.7% to be exact.

And it's the short, gimme throws Fields has identified he needs to work on.

"I think I missed a lot of easy completions this year," Fields told Jarrett Payton. "So I think it's just me fixing some mechanics up and me getting better just with the gimmes, the short throws, the bubble alerts, the screens and stuff like that.

"And, you know, once you start hitting those, that completion percentage just shoots up. You get 8 to 10 free completions each game. And I mean, you kind of see the passing game take off from there."

It's a message he reiterated all over Super Bowl media week

"I would say in the short game, in the short passing game," Fields told Rich Eisen when asked to name an area he needs to improve. "Kind of the gimme throws, the run alerts, the bubbles and stuff like that. I feel like I might have gotten too lazy on and just really missed easy throws."


And his favorite part of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' game? His 2-yard dump passes.

"I like the way he gets out of the pocket and kind of like does those little like just dump passes," Fields told Kevin Clark on the Slow News Day podcast. "I don't think I've seen as many touchdowns as I've seen this past year on like just those little two-yard dump passes where he's just scrambling outside of the pocket."

There might be something to what Fields is saying. While Fields completed 72.2% of his short passes(0-9 yards), it was his lowest graded depth at 59.3 according to Pro Football Focus. It's also the depth with his lowest passer rating, 82.6.

He also threw four interceptions within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, something that absolutely needs to be cut down

And while he completed 85% of his passes behind the line of scrimmage, it was his next lowest-graded area at 62.5.

For comparison, his deep-ball (20+ yards) grade was 84.0 and his medium-depth grade (10-19 yards) was 68.1.

He threw four interceptions short of the first-down marker, as many as he threw on deep balls.

Between the numbers and within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage was one of Fields' most problematic areas of the passing game. He completed 28-of-36 passes, but threw three interceptions for a 71.4 passer rating.

Outside right, behind the line of scrimmage was the area where Fields had his lowest passer rating (65.9).

It is an important area. In 2022, 36.2 percent of pass attempts were in that short depth range and another 18.9% were behind the line of scrimmage. Together, that's 55.1 percent of all pass attempts Fields made.

That's a significant chunk of the passing game, and why it's so important for Fields to make strides in those areas. The ripple effect could be massive and help improve other areas of the Bears' offense, including spreading out defenders in the pass game by making them cover the whole field and opening the door for more explosive plays through the air.

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