Sorting through Justin Fields’ final preseason performance

The final drive of the first half ended in an amazing throw from Fields to tight end Jesper Horsted for a 20-yard touchdown. The rest of the half, though, featured unspectacular Bears offense.

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Chicago Bears v Tennessee Titans

Bears quarterback Justin Fields stands on the sideline Saturday.

Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

During the first half that rookie quarterback Justin Fields played Saturday, the Titans had twice as many first downs (10-5) and more than double the Bears’ yards (184-79). They ran almost twice as many plays as the Bears did (39-20) and held the ball for 21 minutes to the Bears’ 8.

‘‘It was good that we got that last two-minute drive in,’’ Fields said.

The Bears’ last drive of the half ended in an amazing pass from Fields to tight end Jesper Horsted for a 20-yard touchdown. The rest of the half, however, featured unspectacular Bears offense.

Sorting through the half to find Fields’ ups and downs:

Sidearm sling

On third-and-six halfway through the first quarter, the Titans blitzed linebacker Jayon Brown, who was blocked by left guard Cody Whitehair.

Receiver Rodney Adams, one of three receivers split to the left, went in motion to the right before the snap. With a blitz coming, Adams ran an out route to the first-down marker.

Fields had just enough time to throw. He winged the ball sidearm to Adams, who stepped out of bounds a half-step after getting the first down.

Fields’ different arm angles have been as impressive as his velocity.

‘‘When you see a quarterback throw the ball, you know, [there’s] a lot of different . . . throws that he can make and a lot of different throwing angles he can throw from and things like that,’’ receiver Allen Robinson said this month. ‘‘As a receiver, you definitely notice those things. [Fields is] a very natural thrower. He can get the ball out of his hands.’’


Fields took his only sack on the first drive. On third-and-six, the Titans’ Ola Adeniyi quickly beat right tackle Germain Ifedi around the edge. Fields stepped up in the pocket a split-second too late. Adeniyi grabbed him around the waist, and fellow outside linebacker Derick Roberson, who had rushed past left tackle Jason Peters, brought him down.

It was a depressing start for the Bears’ two starting tackles, who were playing for the first time this preseason.

According to Pro Football Focus, Fields had an average of 2.8 seconds to throw Saturday. He had 3.8 seconds in Week 1 and 3.6 seconds in Week 2. The average depth of his targets fell significantly, too — from 10.5 yards in Week 1 and 10.6 yards in Week 2 to 6.5 on Saturday.

Context is important, however, because the Bears wanted to make sure Fields left the game unharmed.

He did, although the line play was hardly reassuring. Coach Matt Nagy reiterated after the game that Peters remains the Bears’ top choice to start in Week 1. The challenge, he said, is for the 39-year-old to round into football shape in the next two weeks. The Bears have only two padded practices before their regular-season opener Sept. 12 against the Rams.


Fields’ 20-yard touchdown pass to Horsted led the highlight shows, but he made a similar play earlier in the two-minute drill. Facing man defense, Fields threw toward Horsted, who ran a corner route. Safety Matthias Farley was face-guarding him and was flagged 20 yards for pass interference.

‘‘You’re gonna see a lot of man in preseason,’’ Fields said. ‘‘In that situation, you want to put the ball where Jesper could get it — or nobody.’’

The Bears refer to standout players as ‘‘multipliers,’’ those who make their teammates better. Fields appears to be that. Despite the Bears’ offensive struggles, Adams and Horsted — two players who might get cut Tuesday — ranked fifth and 14th, respectively, in the NFL in preseason receiving yards entering play Sunday.

At the least, the two throws to Horsted show Fields knows how to attack a man defense. He’ll see more complex defenses the next time he plays, whenever that might be.

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