LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Through the first six games of the 2022 season, the Bears were reluctant to call Justin Fields' number on the ground. Fields had 54 runs in the first six games, but only 12 were by design.
That changed Monday night when the Bears dusted off a comprehensive QB run game in a 33-14 blowout win over the New England Patriots. The Bears called pin-and-pulls, zone reads, draws, and gap runs for Fields used his athleticism to keep the Patriots' defense off balance.
The final tally Monday showed the Bears called 10 designed runs for Fields against the Patriots. Per Pro Football Focus, the 23-year-old picked up 55 yards on those 10 runs and racked up another 27 yards on two scrambles.
Using Fields' rare athleticism to add a new wrinkle to the Bears' struggling offense paid off. The only question is: what took so long to put the QB run game into play?
"I mean, we've been doing it all year," offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Thursday. "I think what we do with our entire offense is we try to get the premiere play against the defense. They presented some cool opportunities for us that we were kind of able to get better angles with the quarterback run this week. We wanted to make sure we took advantage of it. It didn't hurt that we had an extra day [to prepare] but as far as necessarily creating a new offense? No we didn't do anything differently from that perspective and we went about the way we always do in our game plan part of it and what gives us the best opportunity and what gives all 11 guys the best opportunity to succeed."
At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Fields is a talented runner with the football. It's one of his best assets. It's what makes Justin Fields Justin Fields.
In preparation for the Patriots, the Bears had Fields watch cut-ups of how the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson attacked New England with the QB run game, especially with one play in particular where Jackson torched the Patriots for a long touchdown.
"He’s referring to the one play where we had kind of the counterscheme that went into, and I think Lamar went like 70 yards on it or something like that," Getsy said. "That was a really good opportunity for our O-line to have a pretty good opportunity to get on their second level. So we wanted to kind of implement that. Instead of having our running backs just do it, we wanted to have Justin do it."
But now that the Bears' QB run game is on tape, Getsy and Fields have to find a way to build off their success against the Patriots and keep defenses guessing.
"I think it's just staying within who we are, what we do," Getsy said. "Guys have a lot of reps and believe in things conceptually and we got to keep maneuver that. That's what this league is. Teams that do too much, it's hard to be good at it. Teams that are really, they normally do what they do really well and then just make it look a little different to the defense. The defense makes it look a little different to the offense. That's the challenge of every coach across the league is to find ways to let your guys do what they do well without being so obvious or predictable."
Using the QB run game against the Patriots also helped open up opportunities for Fields through the air. The Bears used a variety of play-action looks, rub routes, crossers, and screens to get Fields in a flow and keep the Patriots on their heels. In addition, making Fields a legitimate threat on the ground forces defenses to factor that into their scheme and opens up other areas for the offense to attack.
After having such success with the comprehensive QB run game against the Patriots, the Cowboys will look to take that away from the Bears on Sunday when the teams meet in Dallas.
How Getsy, Fields, and the Bears counter that plan very well could determine whether or not the Bears get back to .500 in Dallas.