Bears, Justin Fields looking to open up passing game vs. Packers
The Bears took what the Raiders gave them Sunday — rushing for 143 yards but passing for only 111. “We feel good about some of the things that we had in [that] game plan and did not use,” offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said.
Justin Fields’ first NFL touchdown pass was notable to Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor not because it was his first but because it wasn’t easy.
On a second-and-goal play from the Raiders’ 2-yard line in the second quarter last Sunday, Fields saw tight end Jesper Horsted engaged with Raiders cornerback Amik Robertson in the back of the end zone. Fields made a pinpoint throw that allowed Horsted to disengage just enough to reach out and make the catch, giving the Bears a 7-3 lead en route to a 20-9 victory at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
“A lot of guys come out of college and they look for their receivers to be wide open, and [Horsted] wasn’t wide open,” Lazor said. “He was more NFL-open, and he still gave [Horsted] a chance. That’s the big thing I took from [that play]. That was just good.”
What Lazor was most pleased about was that Fields didn’t play it safe. He took a chance. And even though it was only a two-yard touchdown pass, it still indicated an aggressiveness Lazor hopes will pay off with downfield throws for big gains in the future.
Fields has one turnover in two games with Lazor calling the offensive plays — an interception by Lions cornerback Amani Oru-wariye that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. He also fumbled against the Lions but recovered it.
“I can probably in my mind picture all these plays through training camp where he took the shot and shouldn’t have — or took a shot and we’re pleased he tried, even though the defense got their hands on the ball,” Lazor said.
“That’s the balance for a quarterback, because what you don’t want is a cautious quarterback. You want a guy who’s aggressive but who’s smart. The balance of that is the key to growth. I think he’s done a good job with that, and he’s taken some throws down the field.”
The Bears had four pass plays of 27 yards or more against the Lions in Fields’ first game with Lazor calling the offensive plays. But the passing game was stifled against the Raiders. Fields threw for 111 yards. His longest pass play was 18 yards to running back Damien Williams. His longest pass play to a wide receiver was 15 yards to Darnell Mooney.
The Bears were glad to take what the Raiders were giving them; they rushed for 143 yards, even with running back David Montgomery out with an injury. And while the passing game was stunted, Fields didn’t throw an interception, didn’t fumble and was sacked just twice.
Even so, Lazor still lamented some chances not taken — by himself more than Fields.
“I think he’s right on track,” Lazor said. “You have to take some shots to get some big plays. We came out of the game with the win. We’re all happy. At the same time, a lot of us — myself included — look back and say, ‘OK, what could I have done to get a little more explosion out of the game?’ ”
Lazor hopes to answer that question Sunday against the Packers. There’s always some room to open things up.
“You can’t do it 100% regardless,” Lazor said. “If they line up a corner 15 yards deep, it’s going to be tough to get behind them. But there’s always a way. They can’t take everything away. So we feel good about some of the things we had in the last game plan and did not use.
“We would always like to have the balance of being able to spread the field — quicker throws, medium-range chunks, deep throws down the field. The way the defense plays might dictate the way . . . you want to attack them. There’s always some balance of those three things in the plan, and I think we did a good job [in practice] of having that ready to go.”