Bears quarterback Justin Fields says he was 'too conservative' in opener against Packers
Wed, Sep 13, 2023
NFL News (AP)
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields wishes he aired it out more in a disappointing season-opening loss to Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers.
For that, he blames himself - not the game plan.
"I felt like I was a little bit too conservative at times during the game," Fields said on Wednesday. "Definitely with guys like DJ (Moore) and Chase (Claypool) on the outside, if we do have one on one on the outside, potentially throwing it up and seeing what happens. With them, they're great playmakers and they can most likely come up with a 50-50 ball. Definitely want to give them more chances deep down the field."
Fields gets another chance to start showing he can become the passer the Bears would like him to be when Chicago visits Tampa Bay on Sunday. The opener didn't go the way he hoped.
Fields accounted for 275 of Chicago's 311 yards, throwing for 216 and running for 59. He lost a fumble and had an interception returned for a touchdown as the Packers pulled away in the second half.
Fields was 24 of 37, almost all of his throws being screens and swing passes. When there were opportunities for bigger gains, he didn't take them. He dumped the ball off when he could have scrambled to buy time and gone deep.
"There was a good opportunity I think a couple times," coach Matt Eberflus said. "I don't know the play numbers. There were a couple opportunities there that we had where we could have done that. We all looked at the tape. That's always going to be the case. We're always gonna have opportunities on the field. We're going to take our peek down there, and if it's there, we're going to take the opportunity."
Fields said it's a little tougher when teams are playing a zone, as Green Bay was. They do that to try to contain scrambling quarterbacks. And he is, of course, one of the NFL's most electric players when he's using his legs.
The 24-year-old Fields rushed for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns in his second year and challenged Lamar Jackson's NFL record of 1,206 in his 2019 MVP season for Baltimore. But he threw for just 2,242 yards and 17 TDs with 11 interceptions last season.
The Bears invested in their quarterback's development in the offseason, most notably trading the No. 1 overall pick in the draft to Carolina for receiver DJ Moore.
"(The Packers) want to protect against explosives, take away the deep plays and stuff like that," Fields said. "So of course we want to be able to take calculated shots throughout the game. And when we call those plays, you just got to take 'em up and throw it up there. A receiver might have to make a contested catch to make a big play. But I mean, yeah, their defense is built for that, to make you go and drive down the field."
The Bears will want to get Moore more involved, after he was targeted just two times in the opener.
Then, there's receiver Chase Claypool. Eberflus didn't rule out the possibility of him being inactive for the upcoming game after a lackluster opener.
Not only did he fail to catch either of the two passes thrown his way, the effort just didn't seem to be there in his route-running and blocking in the short passing game.
It was a discouraging start for a player who struggled after the Bears acquired him from Pittsburgh for a second-round pick in a midseason trade last season.
"We're looking at all possibilities right now," Eberflus said.
The Bears could go with Equanimeous St. Brown if they decide to hold out Claypool. Known for his blocking, St. Brown was inactive against Green Bay.
"Just keep going at it," Fields said. "I think the biggest thing is just having that same mentality as he did in camp and just keep working hard every day and just keep going. Of course, he probably didn't have the game he wanted to have, probably wanted to have more catches. We all probably didn't have the game that we wanted to have. Just keep working, keep getting better, and I think that's the theme of this week."
NOTES: S Kyler Gordon (hand) did not practice on Wednesday. Eberflus wouldn't say if Gordon would avoid injured reserve.
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