Sunday, July 3, 2022

Bears QB Coach Names What Justin Fields Must Fix The Most

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Justin Fields came into 2022 with plenty of things about his game that needed fixing. This is nothing new. Rookie quarterbacks are never finished products. They’re always going to need work, even if they had really good seasons. Fields did not. He struggled. Not all of it was his fault. The Chicago Bears offense was a chaotic mess, and it was obvious he wasn’t getting the best coaching from Matt Nagy and his staff.



So when Luke Getsy took over as offensive coordinator, he and his staff knew they’d have to rebuild the young quarterback from the ground up basically. One of the most significant points of emphasis thus far is his throwing motion. Fields was accused of having an elongated delivery coming out of Ohio State. There were fears this could lead to timing issues in the NFL, not to mention better opportunities for defenders to force fumbles. Early signs are he’s worked hard to correct this problem.

That hasn’t been the biggest point of emphasis, though.

New quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko played and coached the position in college. He then coached it again in Minnesota last year before coming to coach it in Chicago. During that time, he had a chance to learn from some quality coaches about what it takes to elevate the position, such as Mike Sullivan, Kevin Stefanski, and Gary Kubiak. Many things are required, but there is one that stands above the rest in his mind.

“Everything is about timing and rhythm in the NFL,” Janocko said. “If you can get the ball out on time and you can listen to what your feet are telling you, then that helps you progress, helps you get through reads, helps you feel a defense and tells you when you’re late and need to move on.”

He even hammered that point home during an instructional video for Coachtube when talking about the quick passing game.

“Footwork, footwork is everything. It’s more than arm talent, OK. It’s more than what you can do athletically. Footwork is everything.”

It isn’t like he’s alone in this. Once passing the football became more sophisticated in the 1950s, quarterbacks and coaches realized how important footwork was. Hall of Fame 49ers head coach Bill Walsh was the first to make it a central focus of his entire offense. Ever since then, each subsequent generation has carried the same message. Watch all the great quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning. Footwork was a hallmark of their excellence.

Evidence already proves Justin Fields can do it.

There are several moments from last season where the young quarterback had a good ability to navigate the pocket with his feet and keep his eyes down the field. The problem was sometimes it would get away from him, leading to late throws, erratic throws, and turnovers. It is a matter of getting him to a point where his feet remain calm, even if he’s under frequent pressure. That is the tricky part for any quarterback.

Every drill the Bears are running him through in minicamps, and OTAs center around him becoming more and more aware of his feet. They want him to learn to trust them. Once instincts kick in with slide, step back, and step up, everything becomes easier. He’ll even be able to tell where he’s supposed to go with the football based on the timing of his drop.

There is a reason Janocko is harping on this.

It isn’t easy. Most quarterbacks never truly get a handle on footwork. They go through the drills in practice, but once the live bullets start flying, they try to lean on their natural talent and improvise their way through it. See Kyler Murray for an example. That might work against bad or mediocre teams. In the playoffs? The tiniest flaws get exposed. Justin Fields must learn to play the position like a professional.

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