Next step could be a giant leap for Justin Fields
Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy isn’t going to fuel anticipation of a Fields breakthrough. But WR Darnell Mooney said Fields is ready to blossom, starting with Week 1 vs. the 49ers. “That team passed on him. So they’re gonna have to pay a little bit for that.”
Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy wasn’t about to get carried away after Justin Fields threw three touchdown passes against the Browns on Saturday night to conclude a productive preseason of incremental progress for the second-year quarterback.
But wide receiver Darnell Mooney was more than happy to when asked Monday about his own sense of anticipation that Fields can take a giant leap in 2022, with the season opener against the 49ers on Sept. 11 at Soldier Field up next.
“I know he’s a dog. I’ve seen -exactly what he can do,” Mooney said. “He’s going to shine for sure. He’s going to blossom. He’s going to prove everything that everybody doubted him on — especially Week 1. That team passed on him. So they’re going to have to pay a little bit for that.”
Indeed, the 49ers chose North Dakota State’s highly regarded but less accomplished Trey Lance over Fields with the third overall pick in the 2021 draft. Fields hasn’t made a big public issue of that snub. But as Bears fans have witnessed with Patrick Mahomes, that kind of thing has a way of lingering in the back of a quarterback’s mind.
“I haven’t talked to him about it, but he knows for sure,” Mooney said. “I’m pretty sure he has that thought in his mindset.”
Be that as it may, this season is more about development than retribution for Fields after an awkward rookie season in Matt Nagy’s offense. After making incremental progress in the first two preseason games, Fields created excitement and anticipation for the regular season with a stellar performance against the Browns in the preseason finale in Cleveland.
Fields went 14-for-16 for 156 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 146.9 passer rating. Even when you factor in the absence of Browns’ pass rushers Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, that kind of quarterback performance measures on the Richter scale in Chicago.
But in contrast to the excitable Mooney, Getsy took a more measured approach when asked to evaluate Fields and the first-team offense in the preseason.
“We were pleased with the process,” Getsy said. “It’s nothing you need to have knee-jerk reactions — good or bad. I was pleased with the process and the play-calling into the huddle, the snap to the line of scrimmage and the motions and the lack of penalties.
“But there’s a ton of improvement that we have to [make] if we’re going to play better talent, play more looks — all the movement you’re going to get. But it’s a step in the right direction.”
Though there is great anticipation that Fields will have a breakthrough, Getsy is not about to fuel that narrative at this point, if ever. Even with a potential franchise quarterback, Getsy is all about small steps rather than giant leaps, turning points or watershed moments.
When asked what Fields did in the preseason that most likely will translate into regular-season success, he emphasized Fields being a quarterback rather than any physical attribute or measurable part of his game.
“His leadership and bringing that unit together has been really fun to see — not just in the -preseason but throughout the whole thing,” Getsy said. “When you’re able to go out in three -preseason games and show these guys you’re ready to command the huddle, call the plays cleanly and execute at a high level, all that stuff gives people confidence.
“My favorite part about being a huddle team is that the quarterback gets to look 10 other people in the eyes and they get to feel what they feel from him, and there’s zero hesitation in him. That’s good.”