Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy prepared to adapt game plan if QB Justin Fields plays through injury

The Bears haven’t decided yet whether Fields will play against the Panthers, but there’s a chance he’ll still have some limitations from his thumb injury.

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Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy

Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is prepared to alter his game plan to accommodate an injured Justin Fields. The Bears are 19th in the NFL at 20.9 points per game.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has a lot to prep before the Bears face the Panthers and little time to do it, with a quick turnaround for a Thursday night game.

Not only must he make two game plans for quarterbacks Justin Fields and Tyson Bagent — a challenge he predictably downplayed Tuesday — but he’ll also have to account for the likelihood that Fields won’t be at full capacity if he plays.

Although toughness is never a concern with Fields, whom the Bears estimated on their injury report would have been only a partial participant had they practiced Tuesday, the effects of an injured thumb on his throwing hand are difficult to navigate. Some throws might be riskier. Deceptive handoffs at the mesh point — where defenders freeze to determine if Fields is keeping the ball or giving it to the running back — could get dicey. The Bears also have suffered from shaky snaps and blocking failures, more potential sources of trouble.

Getsy said he was “obviously going to take those things into consideration” and get input from Fields to see which aspects of the scheme the Bears might be better off avoiding.

“That would be a continuous conversation,” Getsy said. “That’s a pregame [and] a during-the-game conversation in this instance. We’re on the sideline and we’re talking, and if he’s feeling something during the game . . . then we’ll lean [away from] those areas as well. That’s just a constant conversation that we would continue to have.”

All that liability is particularly concerning for a quarterback who has had issues with accuracy and fumbles. Although Fields’ overall passing numbers — a 61.7 completion percentage, 200.2 yards passing per game, a 90.6 passer rating and a 1.8 touchdown-to-interception ratio — are modestly up from last season, his problems with ball security have lingered. Fields has thrown interceptions on 3.7% of his passes (29th among qualifying quarterbacks), and Pro Football Reference has charted just 73.7% of his throws as accurate (22nd). He also has an NFL-high 32 fumbles since entering the league, although that includes bad snaps.

Fields also has been sacked 24 times — third in the NFL at the time he got hurt and an issue the Bears have been trying to fix for a long time. Yes, their offensive line has been inconsistent, but Fields, despite buying time with his elite speed and great arm strength, also needs to get the ball out faster.

Bagent is flawed but has been sacked just four times in three starts.

The Bears celebrated a supposed breakthrough by Fields when he put up 617 yards and eight touchdown passes over back-to-back games against the Broncos and Commanders — something coach Matt Eberflus mentioned Sunday as cause for optimism. But they skipped past some key facts. Those games were against teams with losing records and bottom-four defenses, and as the Bears collapsed against the Broncos, Fields lost a fumble for a touchdown, threw an interception and floundered in the fourth quarter.

The Bears also seem to be brushing past Fields reverting to a more typical performance against the Vikings. When he left the game injured early in the third quarter, he had completed 6 of 10 passes for 58 yards with an interception and taken four sacks as the Bears trailed 12-6.

The overall blueprint for Fields and Bagent should be similar: Rely on the running game and throw to top wide receiver DJ Moore and tight end Cole Kmet.

And the good news for the Bears is that almost anything should work against the Panthers because almost everything already has. At 1-7, they have allowed a league-high 28.3 points per game, the fifth-most rushing yards at 131.8 per game and the 11th-highest passer rating at 94.0. They also have the fourth fewest sacks and will be without their top pass rusher, defensive end Brian Burns So whoever plays quarterback, and in whatever condition, will have a lot in his favor.

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