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Friday, December 3, 2021

Column: Can Justin Fields pick up where he left off against the Pittsburgh Steelers? The fate of the entire Chicago Bears football operation may be at stake.

As the Chicago Bears come to the end of the season, Chairman George McCuskey and those he trusts for their opinions are likely to pay more attention to the second half of the season than anything else.

If so, then for coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace, it would create an intriguing eight-game period as you wonder what McCuskey sees as “progress” for a team that has 8-8 straight seasons and a spot in the wild card playoffs a year ago, when he played rookie quarterback Justin Fields who is about to start 15 games.

There is a lot to work on in the first nine games, especially given the 29-27 away defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which the Bears opened a low-field pass in an impressive second half. If this was a wake-up call for Fields and the skillful players, coupled with better offensive line defense, it bodes well for anyone on a team looking to disrupt a four-game losing streak.

If Fields and the passing game revealed their identity against the Steelers, with quarterback shooting to level three, long-distance foster Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson and tight ends Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham, the latter of whom was reported missing, then B following for two months the bears will be much better prepared for the challenges.

Fields has averaged at least 10 yards per pass attempt in three of his last four games and averaged 7.15 yards per pass during that interval. Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor seem to have reached a point where things are starting to take shape, and sometimes, when it doesn’t, Fields still finds a way to keep the drive going through unscheduled games.

One impressive thing: Fields, with the exception of a disastrous loss on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers road when he had five revolutions, cared especially well for football. It’s one thing for a rookie to do this because he’s playing conservatively, but Fields challenges the tight low-field circles without harming the team with a wave of fluidity.

Fields is good at explaining to the coaching staff what works for him and through trial and error the Bears learn what works best for him.

“We really feel like we are growing,” Nagy said. “Justin is getting better. But you have to keep doing it, and every week it seems like it’s a (new) scheme, the staff is clear to everyone – and then we have to be able to adapt to all this. ”

If the Bears (3-6) are unable to pick up where they left off at Heinz Field, this could be seen as a deviation from the norm to deal with an attack that has taken on a positively fleeting momentum. This would be problematic in terms of the future of those with jobs at Halas Hall, inextricably linked to the success of the field and the development of Fields.

Nagy has struggled to get out of the game since taking over as head coach in 2018. The Bears are 0-3 after a goodbye week under his leadership – 0-7 compared to Mark Trestman’s second season – and the Bears are 0-6 in the match. two games next goodbye in the last three years. This is not related to this season, but is also an alarming trend. The Ravens – 11: 3 after the date led by John Harbaugh, and had 10 days to plan their encounter with the Bears, after a disappointing 22-10 in favor of the Miami Dolphins.

“I know exactly where I came from, (Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid) has a pretty good track record (goodbye),” Nagy said. “I tried to follow that early in my career and it didn’t work. Not that you need to change anything. Some of them also depend on the level at which you work as a team. ”

The Bears are approaching the crossroads for Nagy and the coaching staff are hoping the extra time for self-examination will be helpful. The Bears found a way to climb to the 0.500 finish in 2020 and made it to the playoffs in seventh place.

Fields development adds a new layer to consider this season. The Bears knew about entering last season – after Mitch Trubinsky refused the five-year option – they were almost certainly moving in a different direction in that position.

Read Also:  Justin Jefferson plays an important role as the Vikings end a two-game losing streak with 27-20 wins over the Chargers

They now have a player who might finally could stabilize the quarterback’s position, and Fields’ development is perhaps as important as wins and losses. But winning matters, even if you’re developing a young quarterback, and the Bears enter the game, stuck in another familiar rut.

“Okay, goodbye, we have to think about it even more,” Nagy said. “Guess what? Last year we had a goodbye week too. We lost six games in a row and there was a ‘goodbye’ in between. The only way to get back to that is to say, ‘Okay, why is this happening?’ It’s not anyone’s fault but anyone’s. Now we’re going to pieces and we have a chance to play at home with a great football team that is really training well, and what are we going to do about it? ”

It will be easy to spot a mistake if the Bears fail to use the rally against the Steelers as a starting point. Sorting out the credits will be just as easy if they can break through in the last eight games and resemble the kind of attack everyone is waiting for.

This is just another reason why stretching is most important to McCuskey.


Mark Andrews, Ravens TE

Information for this report was obtained from NFL Scouts.

Mark Andrews, 6’5 ”, 256 pounds, is spending his fourth season in Baltimore after the Ravens picked him in the third round in 2018 from Oklahoma. Selecting the Pro Bowl in his second season when he had 10 touchdowns, Andrews played four career 100-yard games, including a record 147 last month against the Indianapolis Colts.

Andrews is second on the team in receptions (48), yards (623), and touchdowns (four), while averaging 13.3 yards per hold and 3.75 yards after catch. He has been attacked 69 times and catches 69.6% of passes in his path.

“He reminds me of Travis Kelsey because he has nuance and ingenuity in route selection,” the scout said. “The ravens will plot to open it. He has a big physical body and when Lamar Jackson is wrong with ball placement he can make him look right because he has a huge grab radius to pry balls out of his frame. He understands how to use his body in terms of being able to create leverage to open, leave protective backs outside and cross their face, and now uses this massive frame and grab radius to secure the ball at the point of attack. For them, he is not only the middle of the field, but also a vertical target. They will play deep overs and deep crosses with him to create explosive play with him. As discussed in how (Marquise) “Hollywood” Brown and Rashod Bateman enter the field offensively, this passing game goes through a tight end position. If Andrews doesn’t produce, it will be a bad day for Baltimore.

“He’s Jackson’s backup guy. He will shoot contested windows, and when he does this with Andrews, it is a higher percentage of shots for him because he is so good at the point of attack. He is not a sports fan, does not have the same high-level athletic qualities as Kelche, but his style of play reminds me of him. Great after the catch, physical after the catch. He’s good at running. Not a dominant blocker, but he can position the block all day long. The thing about Baltimore is that they can line up with 22 people and go 2v2. They will use their formations to pull you into what they want you to be and disperse you. Andrews plays a big role in this because he can act as an attached tight end, can be pulled back, they can line it up in a slot, or they can be an “X” width rear receiver like you see with Kelsey in Kansas City. He is in the top five ”.

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