How the Chicago Bears made QB play easier for Justin Fields

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Matt Nagy resurfaced safely away from Halas Hall last week in his first press conference since the Bears lost the Finals to Minnesota.

Now with an assistant role for the Chiefs under coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy as quarterbacks coach to Patrick Mahomes, Nagy looked like someone who thought he would be head coach again. .

“You want to use your experiences to improve in the long run,” Nagy said. “And I feel like I’m still young in this business and I want to use my experience in Chicago to help me be better here for our team here in Kansas City with Coach Reid, with EB (Bieniemy) with Patrick with (GM) Brett Veach, with everyone here.”

The experience he has to put to good use is something new that Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is already grasping.

“We have to dive into what everyone else does best, right?” said Getsy after arriving in Chicago. “It starts with the quarterback. It’s a quarterback-led offense. The things that the quarterback position does well, that’s going to drive who we are.

“And then we’re going to marry that to what the other guys on the football field do well. That’s the goal of the offensive coordinator, isn’t it? To dive into what people do well, what they do the best and then build the attack around that.”

You build the offense around the skills of the quarterback.

It’s not exactly a remarkable concept, but one that Nagy didn’t understand even though he often talked about trying to get Justin Fields out of the pocket and move.

Nagy wasn’t exactly a guy who tried to run the classic Darrell Royal triangle offense with either Dan Marino or Joe Namath at quarterback, but he refused to stray too far from straight pocket looks without extra blockers in the backfield. He rarely used any move other than a jet sweep or fake jet sweep, and all of those things were Fields strengths that were somehow ignored.

The Bears had analytical experts on their staff. They even recently lost one when Brad Goldsberry traveled to the Raiders to do so. Still, Nagy chose to ignore the facts, many of which came to light during the offseason.

  • Fields had a passer rating of 138.5 on designed rollout plays according to a film study by Doug Farrar of USA Today, but they only executed designed rollout throws 19 times.
  • The Bears have used movement in their offense on 43.8% of plays according to ESPN analyst Seth Walder. It was the 17th most in the league. Still, Fields had a 96.6 passer rating when the Bears used any type of move, pre-snap or snap, and only a 63.7 passer rating when they weren’t using it. So obviously you should use it more. If you’re 17th in the league, it should be easy to increase movement if the quarterback gets so much help from it. Teams can use movement to help a setter determine if a team is in man or zone coverage. It is especially useful for young setters who lack experience reading defenses.
  • According to Sportradar, Fields threw just eight passes last year on RPO (run-pass option), which he did well in college and which Nagy touted as a centerpiece of his offense when he came to Chicago. It was tied for 37th in the NFL last year with Drew Lock and Tom Brady. Part of that is on Fields as it’s a run-pass option and he’s run 11 times or got back to his back. Yet only eight assists? Fields didn’t suddenly turn bad overnight at deciding when to pass out of the RPO after being good at it with Ohio State. If he had developed a problem with that, the coaches should have addressed it.
  • According to Sportradar, Fields threw 48 offside passes last year. This ranked 31st in the league for number of attempts. In total, the Bears used just 81 play passes between three passers. There were 25 individual quarterbacks who used him more often than the Bears’ three QBs combined. The reason it’s so bad is that Fields has proven, like most QBs, that he thrives on play-action. At Ohio State in 2020, he was 57 of 77 for 907 yards with nine TD passes and one interception for an offside passer rating of 146.4. This is an NFL QB rating of 146.4, not d a college rating, which is calculated differently and produces higher numbers.

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All of this represents someone who coaches the team stubbornly and doesn’t use a player with obvious strengths because he can attack his opponents better.

By the way, Nagy came to Chicago bringing what he said was the Kansas City offense and with a reputation for developing Mahomes.

The Chiefs ran the move 64.5% of the time last year, second in the league. Mahomes threw 147 offside passes, third in the league behind only Josh Allen (178) and Justin Herbert (166).

Looks like Nagy didn’t even lead the Kansas City offense he said he was bringing to Chicago, let alone a working offense.

The point of all this isn’t just to join the pile of dogs on Nagy. He’s a pretty nice guy and he doesn’t need more heartache, especially after some of the classless bashing he endured at the end of last season.

Rather, it’s about highlighting how much better Fields can be this year simply because they have someone running an offense that now responds to his skill set.

Getsy has never done this in the NFL before, hasn’t been an NFL caller, and could easily revert to an ineffective offense ignoring Fields’ strengths, like Nagy did when he came out mostly from the pocket with only five blockers.

Don’t count on it. The Packers’ offense is based on Shanahan’s offensive style and the 49ers led the NFL last year using the move. They did this on about 85% of the games. Additionally, Getsy reportedly used RPO very effectively when he was an offensive coordinator one year at Mississippi State.

Clearly, Getsy worked closely with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and received ringing endorsements from everyone associated with the Packers, including Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Matt LaFleur and Nathaniel Hackett.

Consider how different fields might appear in an offense where they actually use game action, deployments, bootlegs, and movement.

Fields is unfortunately in a similar situation to Mitchell Trubisky in the second year. Trubisky had Dowell Loggains as his offensive coordinator as a rookie. It was a wasted year. Getsy is to Fields what Nagy was to Trubisky. There has been a huge improvement in Trubisky’s efficiency in the second year under Nagy, and the Bears are counting on Getsy to be a huge step up from Nagy.

Now consider what kind of leap would be possible for Fields in Year 2 with an offense led by someone willing to respond to his strengths.

It all depends on whether they can block it for both him and the running backs, but it’s usually easier for a quick quarterback to stay away from passers if they’re on the move, even if the blocking is poor.

It’s something Nagy never seemed to understand, even though he was a coach who helped develop one of the most mobile passers in the league at Kansas City.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

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