It is easy to understand why trusting Justin Fields against the Green Bay Packers is difficult. He’s 0-4 against them since 2021 with a 70.7 passer rating. Yes, he has the best array of weapons he’s had since joining the Chicago Bears, but that isn’t enough for some. Green Bay still has a formidable defense. They were sixth in the NFL last year against the pass. Fields was intercepted twice in their previous meeting. Feeling confident going into the opener isn’t natural. So, leave it to Luke Getsy to offer some additional information.
Lost in the madness of the off-season was a significant coaching change to the Packers’ defensive staff. The Bears offensive coordinator mentioned it during his latest presser, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune brought it up again.
Getsy pointed out the Packers had a veteran defensive backs coach last season in Jerry Gray who believed in keeping everything in front of the defense. He was replaced by Ryan Downard, potentially affecting their strategy.
“Sometimes you get lucky and you pinpoint exactly who they are going to be,” Getsy said of the scouting and game-plan process. “But that’s not usually how it goes. Usually you get them probably half the time and then you need your players to make plays the other half of the time. Hopefully we can lean on that a little bit more this year.”
That might seem trivial until you understand who Gray is. The man has been a defensive backs coach since 1999 and is one of the best. The Packers had the 14th-ranked pass defense in 2019. After his arrival the following year, they ranked 7th, 10th, and 6th.
Luke Getsy knows how big of a loss Gray is.
Part of it is working with him for two years in Green Bay. Another part is having coached against him when he was with the Minnesota Vikings. Gray was their defensive backs coach from 2014 through 2019. In that time, their pass defense ranked:
Maybe Ryan Downard is as gifted as Gray was, but the odds of that are unlikely. It’s clear the Packers’ secondary was extremely well-coached with him on the staff. Now he’s gone, having headed to Atlanta. Luke Getsy knows the strategies might change, and the discipline might not quite be there. It is a perfect opportunity for Justin Fields to make a statement. If that weren’t enough, two key contributors from their recent success aren’t on the field. Safety Adrian Amos signed elsewhere as a free agent. Cornerback Eric Stokes is on the PUP list with an injury.
If the offensive line can keep the Packers pass rush from going crazy, Fields could have one of his best performances through the air to date. Getsy knows Green Bay no longer has its ace-in-the-hole to prevent it.