The Chicago Bears passing game — and therefore Justin Fields — has been moribund to put it lightly. They have been able to craft the NFL’s second-best rushing attack in terms of total yards. They are also fourth-best in yards per carry. But the passing attack ranks dead last. It sits 83 yards behind the 31st-ranked New York Giants who still have yet to play.
New York takes on the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. The deficit will be even larger when the Bears travel to take them on in Week 4.
Along with Fields’ struggles – which he owned up to following Sunday’s 23-20 win over the Houston Texans – the play of both tight end Cole Kmet and wide receiver Darnell Mooney have come under intense scrutiny.
So, what exactly is Fields going to do about it?
Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields Sends Strong Message About Passing Game
Fields Won’t Force It
Through three weeks, Mooney leads the team with 11 targets; nearly a quarter of Fields’ paltry number of attempts. Six of those targets came versus Houston. He has only been able to come down with four of those, however, for a grand total of 27 yards with 23 of those yards also coming against the Texans.
Mooney spoke after the Week 1 victory over the San Francisco 49ers saying that he was only worried about wins.
There was a thought that a dud against Houston could spell trouble but Fields remains unfazed.
“If Cole gets the ball, then he gets the ball. If Darnell gets the ball, he gets the ball,” Fields responded when asked if there was any additional pressure to get Mooney and Kmet the ball. “I think just not being selfish on who gets the ball. Those guys aren’t selfish guys so, literally, if the ball goes to Equanimeous [St. Brown], Dante [Pettis] it doesn’t matter.”
Swooped right on in 🔒 @jalenpitre1
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) September 25, 2022
Pressed on whether or not it would help the offense come to life after another rough go of it, Fields acknowledged that it could.
But he was equally as steadfast in the process.
“You just have to go through your reads, see what the defense is playing…You can’t force it to those guys like I did today, I tried to force it to Darnell and you saw what happened out there.”
What “happened” was an 8-for-17 performance with 106 passing yards and two bad interceptions. He did run eight times for 47 yards. But 29 of those came on one scramble in the first quarter.
What Fields is Working With
Much has been made of the Bears’ offensive line grading well on ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate metric. But, with so few attempts in such a run-heavy offense, those numbers would seem to be skewed. It is true that Fields’ interception rate is higher than it was last season. And his on-target percentage has also been nearly cut in half. But he has also seen a slight drop in his bad throw percentage.
Even more significant to the discussion, Fields has had even less time in the pocket than last season. Some of that is due to him getting rid of the ball but it also factors in the defensive pressure causing the pocket to collapse. That is inevitably a recipe for disaster with a quarterback whose average time to throw is the second-highest in the league.
The highest belongs to Giants quarterback Daniel Jones.
Darnell Mooney still on the field an hour after the game, practicing. He said his team has to be able to depend on him and he’s upset about his drops today. Bears starting receiver was targeted 6 times for 2 catches and 23 yards #BearsVsTexans #bears @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/EP0jaXlbfh
— Jackie Kostek (@JackieKostek) September 25, 2022
Fields made no excuses for his poor play saying that he played like “trash” and terrible adding that he’s “got to get better”. Head coach Matt Eberflus reminded everyone that they are in the developmental stage and that everyone has to be good for things to work.
Embed from Getty Images