Just 18 plays for Justin Fields, so it’s a small cross-section.
Still, he and coaches came away encouraged at his progress within the offense after Saturday’s 19-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the preseason opener.
However, there was one thing he doesn’t seem to have improved at. First what he did look better doing.
“Yeah, I thought it was good,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “I thought he operated good. I know he had a couple drops there. They dropped a couple balls there. But we’ll get that cleaned up. paa
“We’ve got to be able to take those layups when he’s checking the ball down and get those yards, but we’ll get that cleaned up. That’s not an issue.”
Fields completed 4-of-7 for 48 yards, scrambled for 10 yards and the Bears punted on all three possessions that he played.
“We’re trying to score touchdowns every drive,” Eberflus said. “That’s what we do, so certainly we like that. But we like that he got his 18 plays in there and got to work.”
Fields threw a 19-yarder along the sidelines to Tajae Sharpe and a 26-yard lob to Darnell Mooney. The pass to Sharpe might have been the most impressive because he hung in the pocket for an extended period. Eberflus chalked that up to the extended pass play work they do at practice with Field scrambling/
“That was part of practice,” Eberflus said. “We were letting him extend plays, throw the ball down the
field, and I think you saw it there. He’s got great instincts. He’s an instinctual player, and he has to
harness that and use that, and he’s doing that right now.”
His other big completion, to Mooney on a jump ball, was also the result of extensive practice but not necessarily during training camp. He and Mooney have been working together off and on since the offseason began and communicate now the way a quarterback and his favorite receiver should.
“Yeah, just kind of gave him a signal out there and (I) threw the ball up one-on-one,” Fields said. “Of
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course, preseason you’re going to see a lot of man coverage, so just gave him a shot and he came down
“He’s a great receiver, has great ball skills, has great routes, so I’m excited to see what he does for
us this season for sure.”
Fields doubts it’s a play they’d find difficult to duplicate and it worked because both recognized the man-to-man coverage they faced. In preseason, he said teams more freely use man-to-man coverage to test unproven defensive backs.
“I think Darnell knew where I was going to put that ball, and of course I think that was a routine play for
us, too,” he said. “It was of course a great catch by him, but we’ve seen that many times, so it was no surprise.”
While Fields recognized some of his own faults in the game, he thinks he maybe found a fault with the officiating. He was hit by safety Juan Thornhill while sliding on a scramble.
Initial replays looked like a shoulder to head hit but another angle made it apparent he wasn’t hit in the head at all. Still, it looked like a late hit after Fields gave himself up on a slide and the Chiefs weren’t penalized.
“I mean, I wish I would have got the call, of course, but I couldn’t do anything about it,” Fields said. “So
I’ve just got to move on to the next play.”
Later he said he talked with officials about it.
“And they said that they hit me in the shoulder but I was looking for like, an unsportsmanlike conduct or something like that, a late-hit call or something like that, but I guess I just have to wait a few years, maybe four or five years, before I get that one.
“So hopefully I get it soon.”
Fields had maintained last year in a game against Pittsburgh that he was getting no calls while other veteran quarterbacks hit the same way get flagged.