First things first. Head coach Matt Nagy deserves credit for recognizing that changes were required in order for the Chicago Bears offense to recover from that debacle in Cleveland. The biggest change was handing the call sheet to Bill Lazor. This was the right move. Like it or not, Lazor is a better play caller than Nagy is. The offense just seems to flow better with him running the show. However, let’s be honest. This staff still isn’t doing enough to help Justin Fields.
Now yes, they have made a greater commitment to running the football. Something that has had success the past two weeks. This is a good thing. Especially for rookie QBs. That said, it still feels like the Bears haven’t crafted their system to what their young quarterback does best. One glaring example? The surprising lack of run-pass option plays. This was something Fields did really well at Ohio State.
Yet so far this season? The Bears have run 10 RPOs.
Want some context to that? The Atlanta Falcons, with the statuesque Matt Ryan at quarterback, have run 11. Conversely, the Philadelphia Eagles have made full use of that style of offense with Jalen Hurts, running 73 run-pass options. What makes this so frustrating is Fields has shown he can be effective. He’s thrown four passes out of the RPO set this year, completing all four for 35 yards. If that weren’t enough? Their five rushing attempts out of that formation have gotten 43 yards.
Common sense says if this stuff is working, shouldn’t the Bears be doing it more often? Yet that isn’t the case. They barely did it against the Las Vegas Raiders despite clear indications it was successful. Most of the game was a mix of working under center off play action or in straight shotgun. It still feels like Nagy and this coaching staff aren’t capable of crafting a scheme around what their young QB does best.
Justin Fields is doing the best he can
A lot of people are giving him grief for his pedestrian numbers to this point. Just 111 yards against the Raiders? The truth is it isn’t all on him. He’s in a difficult situation. The offensive line isn’t overly reliable in pass protection. So asking him to throw has led to a lot of hits and sacks. Fields has yet to have more than 20 pass attempts in a game this season. That goes a long way in explaining the low numbers.
Yet evidence suggests he is improving. He made some outstanding throws against the Detroit Lions the week prior. Then against the Raiders, he played the style of game that was asked of him. Conservative, ball control, and limiting the mistakes. He didn’t throw an interception, had a TD pass, and made some money throws late in the 4th quarter to help put the game away.
What’s frustrating is knowing he can do more.
It just feels like the Bears won’t let him. Or rather are incapable of running anything other than variations of the systems they know. Keep in mind Nagy, Lazor, and the rest of this staff aren’t heavily schooled in RPO-style offenses. The only one who is? Tom Herman and he’s only an offensive analyst. So unless they start giving him a bigger voice in this, the offense will continue to look like it has. Even if it means limiting Justin Fields’ potential.