Sitting at 4-9, many folks would argue that the most important thing for the Bears to accomplish as they wrap up the 2021 season is to develop their young players. Especially rookie quarterback Justin Fields.
“We want the game to slow down for him on defense, make good decisions,” Matt Nagy said. “His attitude's been phenomenal, he's got an extremely bright future.”
Fields will have a great challenge ahead of him on Monday Night, when he faces Mike Zimmer’s defense. While the metrics for the Vikings’ defense are eye-popping this season, they are one of the best teams in the league at disguising blitzes and where the pass rush is coming from.
“We have to be able to stay in third-and-manageable, whether that's via the pass or run, because if they get you in 3rd-and-7-plus, it can be difficult,” Nagy said. “For Justin, it's gonna be a really good opportunity for him to be able to see some of the things they do.
“It’s a cat and mouse game where they like to show you one way and come from another, and then show you one way and come from that way. So, we’ve got to be really locked in and be good with what we’re doing schematically, whether it’s via protections or whether it’s through the air or whether it’s through the run.”
Fields has already faced the No. 1 blitzing team in the league, the Buccaneers, and it didn’t go well. He completed 22-32 passes for only 184 yards and no touchdowns. Fields also threw three interceptions and took four sacks. But Fields missed another opportunity to face another defensive coordinator who likes to disguise blitzes, since he was hurt when the Bears played Vance Joseph’s Cardinals defense.
Still, Nagy is confident that Fields has been exposed to some of the challenging aspects of diagnosing a defense like Zimmer’s through his previous game experience and film study with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.
“Flip is extremely passionate about blitz I.D. protections every week, regardless of who the coordinator is,” Nagy said. “Justin's seen some defenses that like to bring it and he's seen some that are a little calmer and this one here when they get you in certain situations they're going to attack you so it'll be good for him.”