With Matt Nagy’s offense out of the picture and the new regime ready to turn things around, 2022 is supposed to be a big year for Fields’ development.
A key piece of that development is going to be the players, specifically wide receivers, surrounding him. Hence why much of the distaste for the Bears offseason moves came from them not adding a “number one” to allow Fields to push the ball down field.
While Fields has been a dynamic playmaker with his legs and is complimented nicely by David Montgomery in the backfield, he is at his best when he is able to throw it deep:
Justin Fields had most of his production when pushing the ball down the field, completing 9 of 16 passes traveling 10+ air yards for 225 yards and a TD (+9.6% CPOE).— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 9, 2021
Fields averaged 15.7 air yards/attempt, the 2nd-most by a QB in a game this season.#CHIvsPIT | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/L4agkzuWRY
#Bears HC Matt Eberflus on Justin Fields: "Man, he throws a good deep ball."— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) May 24, 2022
Many are beginning to believe the Bears are failing Fields, by not equipping him with the receiving threats to air it out. As the depth chart currently stands, Fields’ top options through the air will be TE Cole Kmet, WR Darnell Mooney, WR Byron Pringle, and rookie WR Velus Jones Jr.
Now, regardless of how fans or analysts feel about these options, it appears the Bears’ receiving core has the approval of the one person who matters the most: the quarterback.
In a recent interview with Bleacher Report, Justin Fields showed his support for each of his weapons, and said he believes the Bears have enough to succeed.
“We don’t have an Odell [Beckham Jr.] or a Cooper Kupp on our team, but at the end of the day, the players we have right now are good enough,” Fields said. “The front office thinks that, too. The fans outside of the facility, they don’t know what’s going on at practice. Just because we don’t have a big-name guy, doesn’t mean those guys aren’t talented. I have plenty of confidence in myself and my teammates that we’re going to get the job done.”
Hard to argue with Fields on that one. A big name does not always equal big production.
From the outside looking in, it’s easy to criticize the Bears roster. But I choose to believe the new coaching staff has a plan for this offense, and they have selected their offensive personnel for a reason.
They are the ones that see practice everyday. They see the work that Fields puts in with his receivers, and they know what best suits him. Fields notices these things too.
It’s no secret that Justin Fields is a big fan of his primary target, Darnell Mooney, on and off the field:
“How hard he works,” Fields said when discussing what stands out about Mooney. “He’s already talented; he’s fast and has great hands. On top of that, he works harder than anybody I know other than myself. A couple nights ago, we were in the facility until 12:30 a.m. going through plays and walking through plays for the next day at practice.”
Mooney even stayed with Fields to get extra offseason work in and build their chemistry. It certainly seemed like last season Mooney was the favorite target for the young QB, and that should continue as the pair grows in their relationship.
Fields has also been impressed with what he’s seen from Velus Jones Jr. at Bears rookie minicamp:
“At rookie minicamp there was one play that stood out to me, he had a 10-yard dig route in and caught it and hit that second gear kick for a touchdown,” Fields said.
“He’s going to pick up a lot of yards and is physical. He’s almost like a running back at receiver. Having him on the outside and putting the ball in his hands and letting him work will be great.”
– Justin fields on velus jones jr.
While many Bears fans clamored for George Pickens, Alec Pierce, or other pure WR in the draft, it is common knowledge than Ryan Poles consulted Fields before selecting a weapon for him. Velus Jones Jr. has had the approval of his quarterback for some time.
We still don’t know exactly what the Bears offense is going to look like. All things considered, I think the most important thing regarding the new offense is that Justin Fields feels comfortable in it. That starts with his weapons.
If Fields thinks the Bears have surrounded him with enough options, who is anyone to disagree?
Image via Jayne Kamin-Oncea – USA TODAY Sports