Richard Sherman had criticized the Bears’ play-calling — and was about to do it again on the Amazon postgame show — when the former Seahawks cornerback sent out a Tweet on Thursday night.
“This is a dissertation in how to NOT fit your play-calling to your personnel,” he wrote. “The fact we just saw a designed run for Carson Wentz and not yet 1 for Justin Fields in asinine.”
It took eight minutes for Sean Payton, the best unemployed play-caller on the planet, to second him. He told Sherman he was “preaching to the choir” about offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s play selection.
“Woof!” Payton wrote.
It helped Payton to have future Hall of Famer Drew Brees as his quarterback for 14 of the coach’s 15 years with the Saints. But Payton was also able to use a run-first quarterback, Taysom Hill, when needed.
The Bears need to figure out if Justin Fields is closer to Brees, a traditional pocket passer, or Hill, a dangerous runner. Through six weeks, he’s stuck in the middle, and the results are ugly. Statistically, he’s the league’s worst quarterback. As Sherman said in the postgame show: “It’s like Luke Getsy is like, ‘I want to challenge [Fields] to overcome my play-calling.'”
The Bears have an extra weekend to try to figure it out. As part of their breakdown of players, lineups and scheme, coaches will spend the next few days determining how to tweak their offense to best fit Fields. Position coaches will look at cutups and then meet up with Getsy and head coach Matt Eberflus on Monday. Players return to Halas Hall the next day.
“I think that’s the whole plan we’re looking at,” head coach Matt Eberflus said Friday. “When you say ‘evaluate scheme, evaluate players,’ that’s part of the whole process. Are we putting our players in the position to succeed?”
The process will take all season long. Regardless of the temptation to judge Fields every week, the Bears know that have 17 games this season in which to determine whether the second-year player in the team’s quarterback of the future.
Fine-tuning the scheme will give the Bears front-office the most honest look at Fields. But it might also be the only chance of getting the quarterback through the season upright.
Fields went from handing the ball off primarily over the first month of the season to running for his life on pass plays in the 12-7 loss to the Commanders on Thursday night. Fields was battered Thursday night, taking 12 quarterback hits, five sacks and running a whopping 12 times. On the season, he’s been sacked 16.7 percent of the time; only one other quarterback is even in double digits.
Fields, who rarely allows himself to admit he’s hurt, injured his left shoulder in the first half, though Eberflus said he was “a little bit sore” and will be fine.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears change their offensive line before the Oct. 24 game in New England. The Bears have played one extra game heading into the weekend, but their pass-blocking stats are nonetheless alarming: rookie Braxton Jones is second among tackles with 20 pressures allowed, per Pro Football Focus. Lucas Patrick is second among guards with 16 and Sam Mustipher is tied for the most pressures allowed by a center, with 10.
The Bears can try to fix that with scheme — by adding extra blockers, rolling Fields out or just letting him hand the ball off.
After Thursday night, anything would be an improvement.
“The rhythm and timing of the passing game is all predicated on the movement passes, the pocket when you are dropping back, and those are all things that we’re going to keep looking at,” Eberflus said. “In terms of helping guys inside or outside more. Doing more things that can help the offensive line, that can help the receivers, that can help every group.”