Training camp is underway for the Chicago Bears as the team has had their first full week of practices since reporting to camp last Tuesday. First-year head coach Matt Eberflus and his coaching staff have their work cut out as they need to implement a new offensive and defensive scheme. So far in camp, there has been a recurring trend with Chicago’s offense as second-year quarterback Justin Fields continues to connect with passing targets downfield, something that wasn’t seen much of last season.
Justin Fields connects with Cole Kmet on a deep ball.
Placed right in between 2 defenders. Great throw. Great catch.
— Josh DeLuca (@JoshDeLuca4) July 28, 2022
Chicago’s New Offense Is Going To Enable Fields To Be Successful With His Best Strengths
New offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is implementing an offensive scheme similar to the San Francisco 49ers and head coach Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan’s offensive system utilizes boot-leg and play-action passing formations which feature significant pre-snap motions. The goal of the passing design is to cut the field in half for the quarterback while evading defensive pressure and giving him a choice to pass the ball or run the ball for positive gain.
With the Bears’ offense, Getsy wants to give his starting quarterback the same option of either passing or running, depending on how the defense is defending him. The two best strengths of Fields as a quarterback is his mobility and his deep-ball accuracy. During his time with Ohio State in college, the Bears’ quarterback was a terrific deep-ball passer and two of his best games as a rookie last season came when throwing deep.
In his starts against the Detroit Lions in Week 4 and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9, Fields completed four or more passes that traveled over 20 yards or more in the air. In the game against the Lions, Chicago’s rookie quarterback completed the longest pass of the season, a 64-yard completion to wide receiver Darnell Mooney. Against the Steelers, Fields completed three passes for 25 yards or more in the second half of the game. In both games, Chicago’s offense averaged 22 points, while their young quarterback averaged 250 passing yards.
#Bears QB Justin Fields averaged 15.6 air yards per attempt last night, the 2nd-most by any QB in a game this season.
He also had 7 completions on balls 15+ yards downfield, like this throw to Marquise Goodwin.
I love Fields’ aggression and execution throwing the deep ball. pic.twitter.com/roEjYm6uKk
— Chris Maltby (@ChrisMaltbyBD) November 9, 2021
Getsy understands that it’s in the Bears’ best interest to utilize Fields’ arm strength in the passing game. Chicago’s offensive coordinator will look to establish the running game first with running backs David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. Setting up the rushing offense first will lead to the opposing defense biting on boot-leg and play-action passes with the fake handoff causing defenders to freeze, enabling the Bears’ passing targets to gain separation from the opposing secondary.
Chicago has two wide receivers that have the speed to gain separation from opposing defenders and get downfield quick. Darnell Mooney is the Bears’ best wide receiver and has been a consistent deep-ball threat during his first two seasons in the NFL. During the 2022 NFL Draft, Chicago’s new general manager Ryan Poles decided to draft Tennessee wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. Jones Jr recorded the second fastest 40-yard dash time for a wide receiver at the scouting combine posting a 40 speed of 4.31.
I can’t remember the last time a Bears WR had separation like this.
Velus Jones Jr. has some wheels.🔥
— Max Markham (@MaxMarkhamNFL) July 30, 2022
If Chicago’s offense is successful with their rushing offense at the beginning of the season, Fields will have more opportunities to attempt and complete deep passes to Mooney and Jones Jr. Getsy’s offense has the goal of creating confusion and hesitation for the opposing defense with the hopes that a momentary pause can free up Chicago’s quarterback and wide receiver to connect on deep-ball throws.
Deep-Ball Success Will Free Up The Rest Of Chicago’s Passing Offense
An added benefit if the Bears’ offense can have success on deep pass completions to their speedy wide receivers will be the success with short passes. If opposing defenses are focused on taking away Fields’ ability to throw deep, it could lead to a lot of space underneath to complete short-yardage passes to Chicago’s tight ends and running backs, resulting in a significant amount of yards after the catch. Montgomery, Herbert, and tight end Cole Kmet could be in favorable positions to catch a 5-yard throw and run for 10 to 20 yards gains because the opposing defense dropped too far back in coverage to protect against the deep pass.
David Montgomery joining the early TOUCHDOWN PARTY with this 28 yard reception and great cutback for the score! 🔥🔥🔥#DaBears #NYGvsCHI #NFL #NFLTwitter #Dynasty #FantasyFootball pic.twitter.com/E9x1s1b8l4
— Ben Eby 🚀🚀🚀 (@TheBenEby) September 20, 2020
Another benefit of an established deep-ball passing offense by the bears is that it will increase Fields’ ability to scramble if no passing targets are open. Getsy’s desire with the boot-leg passing designs is to allow Chicago’s quarterback to use his speed along the sideline to evade defensive linemen and linebackers for positive yardage. With opposing defenses being spread out and playing deep to defend against deep throws, Fields can gain more yards when scrambling and avoid defenders at the line and of scrimmage and at the second level of the field.
It’s a promising sight to see the Bears throwing deep on offense early in training camp. Although Chicago’s offense will feature a significant amount of running plays to begin the season, this will help set up Fields to take deep-ball attempts when it comes time to throw the ball. Getsy is making it a point to build an offense around his quarterback’s best strengths, and this could lead to exciting results when the regular season begins.