Justin Fields, offense focused on process

What we learned as the Bears’ offensive process continued on Day 8 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST – The Bears’ offensive process continued Friday at Halas Hall with their third padded practice of training camp.

Process is a word being thrown around by everyone associated with the Bears’ offense. They are nearing the end of the installation, according to offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. There have been fewer mistakes of late. But any progress the Bears’ offense is making in camp is hard to gauge without the chunk plays and crisp production many want to see.

On Friday, Justin Fields and the Bears’ offense got off to an excellent start in 11-on-11 work against a scout team defense. With two teams in the division playing a 3-4 style, the Bears’ staff wants to get the offense as many looks as possible against that front. That will help make the execution better when those weeks arrive.
Fields and the offense fared pretty well against the scout team. Fields hit Velus Jones Jr. and Cole Kmet for deep gains down the left side. The Bears also ran a nicely executed tight end screen to Kmet that went for a solid gain.

As with everything in camp, though, it wasn’t perfect.

Fields had Equanimeous St. Brown streaking open down the right sideline for what would have been a long touchdown but overthrew him. A few plays later, Fields was picked off by AJ Thomas on a ball meant for Tajae Sharpe.

Fields ended his work against the scout team by hitting St. Brown for a significant gain off free play when a defensive lineman jumped offsides.

Good and bad. The process is the process.

“This is a process, right?” Getsy said of helping Fields deal with the ups and downs. “And we stress every single day that we’re a process-driven team, and our unit is the same way. And it’s all about making sure we get better every single day. Whether the focus is on getting better at our protection adjustments or our hot adjustments or throwing hot routes – whatever that adjustment is or whatever that emphasis of the day is, we just have to make sure we’re getting better at it, and then the situational stuff is like, he can’t get enough of that.

“You’re talking about what makes the great quarterbacks great, it’s just that experience in dealing with all the different situations and understanding them and also you know part of that growth, you take walk throughs that we have at night and just go through situations and stuff and you can see them showing up when we get out there on the field in practice.”

The Bears ended practice with different “play it” periods, this time against the first-string defense without Kyler Gordon, Robert Quinn, and Kindle Vildor.

Given the ball at the 25-yard line and asked to score, the Bears’ offense sputtered to the finish line.

Back-to-back runs by David Montgomery gave the offense a first-and-10 at the 15-yard line.

Fields rolled left and had N’Keal Harry running open around the 5-yard line. But he looked past Harry and tried to fire a strike to Darnell Mooney, but the pass was wide and fell incomplete.

An illegal substitution penalty moved the offense back 5 yards. A pitch play to Montgomery got the 5 yards back and set up third-and-10 from the 15. Fields dropped back and looked for Mooney breaking into the middle of the end zone. But Fields’ pass was tipped by Tavon Young and fell incomplete to give the defense a win for that series.

The following “play it” drill saw the offense start with the ball inside the red zone at the 15-yard line.

Montgomery opened the drill with a 7-yard run to get the ball down to the 8. Fields lost 3 yards on a designated QB run on second down to set up third-and-6 from the 11. Fields moved the chains this time, throwing a strike to Mooney over the middle for a gain of 6.

After a 1-yard run by Montgomery on first down, the Bears’ offensive line was whistled for a holding call, setting up second-and-goal at the 14-yard line. Another completion to Mooney got 9 of those yards back, but that was all the Bears’ offense could muster.

Fields was flushed out of the pocket and forced to throw the ball away on third down.

The Bears elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal.

Fields kept the ball on what looked to be a zone read but was stopped for no gain.

Another win for the defense.

The day ended with an end-of-half/game drill that saw the Bears’ offense start with the ball at midfield with one minute left.

Fields hit Mooney for 6 to open the drill, but a holding call on second down moved the Bears back to their own 46-yard line.

On second-and-14, Fields found Kmet for a gain of 6 to set up third-and-8.

Fields got good protection on third down and threw a strike toward Kmet at the marker, but Jaquan Brisker knocked the ball out of the tight end’s hands to set up fourth down. The offense ran a quick out to Mooney on the right side, hoping the shifty receiver could make someone miss and get the necessary 8 yards. But the defense rallied to the ball and stopped Mooney short, setting off a celebration.

All in all, the Bears’ offense continues to show progress. But it’s hard to see the arrow trending upward when so many drills end in defensive victories.

Individually, Fields had a great practice, especially during the first half when he and the offense had their way with the scout team defense.

To Getsy, Friday was a perfect example of the progress Fields is making.

“The next 3 weeks we’ve got to, we’ve got to take it to another level and that’s part of Justin’s development that he’s going to kind of lead that thing, right?” Getsy said. “And you can see him processing things so much faster and so much better. I mean today he had three or four plays that were really, really impressive plays in the way he progressed through it like getting all the way back to a fourth in your progression, that was like, I mean they were really cool plays today.”

Here are more notes from Day 8 of camp.

— Kyler Gordon, Robert Quinn, Kindle Vildor, James O’Shaughnessy, and Dante Pettis did not practice.

— Teven Jenkins missed his seventh straight practice.

— The Bears’ offensive line appears to be taking shape. Braxton Jones once again took all the first-team left tackle reps, while Sam Mustipher got most of the center snaps. Michael Schofield handled most of the right guard duties. Riley Reiff and Larry Borom continue to rotate at right tackle, although Reiff has seen more action with those of late.

— Rookie running back Trestan Ebner had several explosive runs during 11-on-11 work with the second team. The Bears have been excited about the Baylor product’s playmaking ability.

— This was the longest practice of training camp to date. The Bears’ staff wanted to make Friday an intense practice to focus on mental and physical conditioning.

“I’m not kidding. That was probably the hardest practice I’ve ever been a part of. That’s not a joke. It was a tough practice,” Kmet said. “Tempo. Speed. Physicality. The whole thing. I mean we’re moving drill to drill. That’s how Coach wants it. And I think that was kind of the … That was one of the hardest ones we’ve had yet and one of the hardest ones I’ve been a part of. It’s only going to make us better. We just have to buy into it.”

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