Three things we learned from Justin Fields’ debut
Saturday exemplified what the Bears learned while interviewing defensive coordinators this offseason: Accounting for an athletic quarterback is the biggest challenge in the sport.
Three things we learned from Bears quarterback Justin Fields’ tantalizing preseason performance Saturday:
He beat the clock
Fields did well in the two-minute drill — or, rather, in the 16-second drill.
‘‘We talk about and teach and show tape of it, but we didn’t really practice it a whole lot,’’ coach Matt Nagy said.
On third-and-five from the Bears’ 37 with 16 seconds left in the first half, Fields stepped up in the pocket and rolled right. He pulled up to throw slightly across his body, but still down the right flank, to Justin Hardy. After the 15-yard gain, the Bears took their final timeout.
‘‘I was just rolling out and saw him late, last minute, and jumped it up to him,’’ Fields said.
With eight seconds left, the Bears needed at least six yards to give Cairo Santos a field-goal try. Knowing he couldn’t stop the clock again, Fields checked the ball down to tight end Jesse James along the right sideline. James stepped out of bounds for a gain of eight yards, and Santos made a 53-yard field goal.
‘‘I was trying to, of course, pay attention to the clock,’’ Fields said. ‘‘And also throw it to the perimeter, so he would have a chance to get out of bounds.’’
Fields’ poise jumped out to Nagy.
‘‘The one thing you felt from Justin that we all took away from down there was [that] he was extremely calm the whole time,’’ Nagy said.
He needs to stop spinning
Bears coaches winced when Fields scrambled left on third-and-12 from his own 12 with 2:15 left in the first half. Rather than looking to slide or get out of bounds, he tried to put a spin move on Dolphins cornerback Nik Needham, who tackled him and popped the ball out.
It rolled out of bounds. Lesson learned.
Earlier this month, Fields said he didn’t want a repeat of his scramble in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson. He tried a spin move in that game, was speared and hurt his ribs. The injury left him limited in the CFP title game against Alabama.
‘‘After that, I think I’m going to officially retire the spin move,’’ a smiling Fields said Saturday. ‘‘I don’t see that coming out any time soon. But, yeah, I just need to be smarter with ball security and either slide or get out of bounds in that situation.’’
He’s a matchup problem
On third-and-nine about three minutes into the third quarter, Fields was pressured and rolled right. Rodney Adams, who started off in the left slot, ran a shallow cross toward the right sideline. Cornerback Javaris Davis was plastered all over Adams until he was forced to decide whether to keep covering Adams or run toward Fields. He chose poorly.
Fields sprinted toward the line of scrimmage before pulling up and tossing a pass to Adams, who skittered up the right sideline for 13 yards. It exemplified what the Bears learned while interviewing defensive coordinators this offseason: Accounting for an athletic quarterback is the biggest challenge in the sport.
‘‘Puts a lot of pressure on the defense and allows me to really play backyard football with the receivers and scramble,’’ said Fields, who went 14-for-20 for 142 yards and a touchdown and also scored on a run. ‘‘And the more that happens and the more we can get on the same page when I do get out of the pocket, the better we can be.
‘‘Of course, I also have to be able to make smart decisions. I can’t always force the ball. Of course, sometimes I have to throw the ball away. But, yeah, it’s definitely a part of my game where I feel very comfortable.’’
Particularly against man-to-man defenses.
‘‘That’s going to put a lot of stress on [them] because they don’t know whether to come and get me or stay on their man,’’ Fields said. ‘‘With zone teams, it’s a little bit different.
‘‘But, man, literally, you’re playing backyard football.’’