Next up for Bears coordinator Luke Getsy — build an offense around Justin Fields

Now it’s Getsy who must try to come up with answers to a problem that has, without hyperbole, vexed the Bears for more than a century: how to turn a quarterback into a star.

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The Bears’ new leadership has to find a way to build an offense around quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears’ new leadership has to find a way to build an offense around quarterback Justin Fields.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Earlier this month, Aaron Rodgers gave Luke Getsy his endorsement.

Appearing on the “Pat McAfee Show” on Jan. 11, the Packers star talked about his quarterbacks coach/pass-game coordinator being invited to interview for the Broncos’ head-coaching job. Rodgers said he has been impressed with Getsy, pointing out that he was only a month older than the coach.

“He’s been in our room for three years now, and he’s a fantastic coach, a really good teacher of the game,” Rodgers said. “I’m excited for him, as well. It’s great when our guys get opportunities.”

On Sunday, the Bears gave Getsy his opportunity. New coach Matt Eberflus named him the Bears’ offensive coordinator, answering the most important question that he faced in assembling his staff. 

Now it’s Getsy who must come up with answers to a problem that has, without hyperbole, vexed the Bears for more than a century: how to turn a Bears quarterback into a star. 

Justin Fields needs a coordinator who will craft an offense around his specific set of skills — he throws an uncanny deep ball and is the second-fastest quarterback time-clocked at the NFL Scouting Combine this century. 

Matt Nagy never did. He had Andy Dalton spend all preseason with the first team, then struggled to put the rookie in a position to succeed after the veteran got hurt. Two days after the Bears’ debacle in Cleveland — Fields threw for 68 yards in his first career start — Nagy asked his players what they would do to improve the offense. Nick Foles offered suggestions; Fields, still adjusting to life as an NFL starter, did not. 

When Nagy finally acquiesced and made Fields the full-time starter, consistency proved impossible to find. Fields lost his last seven starts. His 73.2 passer rating ranked 28th in the NFL.

It’s fair to have the same concerns about Getsy as one does with Eberflus and new general manager Ryan Poles. Getsy has never called plays in the NFL. Eberflus has no head-coaching experience at any level, and Poles had never been a general manager.

Was Getsy a hot name in interview circles simply because of Rodgers? How much could the star quarterback have possibly learned from a position coach who came along in his 15th season? Few people on the planet can do what Rodgers can do, so how will Getsy take what he learned in Green Bay and apply it to mere mortals?

Asked to describe Getsy, two sources separately described him as authentic and high-energy. One praised his relationship with Rodgers, especially during the quarterback’s melodramatic, controversial season.

Earlier this season, all-world wide receiver Davante Adams — who will be a free agent in March — told reporters that Getsy, a former Packers receivers coach, is “one of the unsung heroes” who is “trying to be a master at his craft.”

Similarly, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he was “absolutely” ready for a promotion.

“I think he’s a great communicator,” La-Fleur told reporters this month. “He’s got great command. I think people believe in him. He’s genuine. He’s a good person. He cares about people. He’s got all the qualities that you look for, I think, when you think about a leader.”

More important than Getsy’s personality, though, will be what kind of offense he runs with Fields under center. Getsy is a branch of the Mike Shanahan coaching tree. In 2013, his boss, LaFleur, coached in Washington under Shanahan and alongside Kyle Shanahan, the coach’s son, and Sean McVay. The younger Shanahan and McVay faced each other Sunday for the NFC title. Mike Shanahan offenses are a branch of the West Coast scheme but with a focus on the outside zone run.

Getsy, though, has been influenced by Joe Moorhead, his pass-game coordinator, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when he played QB at Akron. Under Moorhead, Getsy led the conference in passing yards in 2005 and 2006.

In 2018, Getsy became Mississippi State’s offensive coordinator under Moorhead, who was the Bulldogs’ coach. With Moorhead calling plays, Mississippi State relied on run-pass options, with quarterback Nick Fitzgerald finishing fifth in the SEC with 1,121 rushing yards. Mississippi State’s 5.7 yards per rush were the second-most in the conference. Moorhead’s pass scheme relies on an aggressive vertical element, too. He showed that the last two years as Oregon’s offensive coordinator.

So the Bears’ offense figures to be a mixture of the Packers’ pass concepts with a Moorhead influence. On the ground, the Bears figure to feature run-pass options — which would give Fields a chance to flash his athleticism — and outside zone plays.

The best offense, though, will be the one that allows Fields to develop into the quarterback the Bears hope he can be. 

For the Bears, it has been the challenge of a century.

For Getsy, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. 

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