Bears

Bears Observations: Justin Fields plays like franchise QB

Bears

The Bears have one game in the books, and while several questions remain unanswered, the initial preseason action did provide some insight for both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Since everyone wants to hear about that one guy in the No. 1 jersey, let’s kick things off with him.

JUSTIN FIELDS LOOKED LIKE THAT GUY… EVENTUALLY

It was a tale of two halves for the rookie QB. When Fields first came into the game, the Bears offense looked ugly, but it wasn’t all Fields’ fault. Multiple false starts doomed one drive, but on another, Fields forced balls into tight coverage that fell incomplete. Then on a third-down scramble, he fumbled the ball, forcing another punt.

Things couldn’t have been any more different in the second half however. To start, Fields moved out of the pocket, directed traffic and found Riley Ridley for a 17-yard gain. Then he placed a perfect deep ball on Rodney Adams for another 25 yards, and capped off the drive by evading a sack, then taking off on a nifty eight-yard scramble to score. His next, and final, drive was just as good. Fields showed elusiveness on a 21-yard scramble, and continued to make accurate throws on the run.

All in all, he did things that are rarely seen from Bears QBs.

TIGHT ENDS FEATURED EARLY AND OFTEN

The Bears know they have two high-impact tight ends on their roster, and they clearly plan on using them. On the very first play of the Bears’ first drive, the team lined up in 12 personnel, with both Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham on the field. In big moments, the team looked towards the TEs also. On an early 3rd-and-2 play, Dalton tried to squeeze a ball in to Kmet for the first down.

 

When Fields entered the game, things didn’t change. Jesse James saw four targets while he was in the game. That ended up being the second-most on the team behind Rodney Adams. One of those targets was a well-designed play that ended up in a wide open 30-yard touchdown catch.

ROBERT QUINN BACK?

Quinn only played two series to start the game, but in his limited action he clearly impacted Tua Tagovailoa. On the first drive of the game he pressured Tagovailoa on a 3rd-and-7 play to force an incompletion, and the ensuing punt. On the next drive he repeated. If he can keep this up, it could be just the boost the Bears need for their defense to play at an elite level again.

RUN DEFENSE IS STOUT AGAIN

Even without Eddie Goldman in at nose tackle, or Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith filling in at the second level, the Bears were able to limit the Dolphins on the ground. In his limited action, Akiem Hicks blew up one play. Christian Jones and Alec Ogletree each contributed TFLs filling in for Smith and Trevathan too. On the first three drives, the defense limited the Dolphins to eight total rushing yards on eight carries, good for a paltry 1.0 YPC average.

SPECIAL TEAMS NEEDS WORK

The one phase of the game that used to be the Bears’ strong suit looked like a weak link on Saturday. Without special teams stalwarts Cordarrelle Patterson or Sherrick McManis on the team anymore, the Bears’ kick coverage was sloppy. They surrendered an average of 14.9 yards on punt returns, and that includes one that went for no gain since the Dolphins’ return man slid out of bounds as he caught the ball. Meanwhile, Jordan Lucas and Jon’Vea Johnson combined for an 8.25 punt return average. Each guy muffed a return, as well.

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