Justin Fields’ athleticism has never been in question. Yet, the Chicago Bears have not dialed up many designed runs for their dual-threat quarterback through the first year and half of his career. That changed Monday night.
After totaling just 38 carries on designed runs in the first 18 games of Fields’ career, the Bears called 12 designed runs for their quarterback against New England on Monday. Success came too, as Fields totaled 63 rushing yards on such plays, compared to just 83 rushing yards in his first 18 games.
“I thought they were good,” Fields said of the plays postgame. “I thought it brought a whole different element to our offense. I think we executed that well. And there were definitely some explosive plays in the design runs for sure.”
Fields’ success on the ground was not the first time a mobile quarterback has run all over New England’s defense. Back in Week 3, it was Lamar Jackson piling up 107 rushing yards on 11 carries. The Bears, who had extended preparation time after playing last Thursday night, took notice and made the necessary changes.
“He just made a lot of plays, I’d say,” Devin McCourty said postgame. “Throwing, dropping back, scrambling, more designed runs than we saw on film. I think with the extended time they added some plays that I think we saw in the Baltimore game with Lamar Jackson. Some of those style of plays, but we just didn’t do a good job of keeping him in the pocket.”
In a copycat league, that is exactly what the Bears did to attack New England’s defense, as Fields struck on a handful of zone-reads and quarterback sweeps.
“They attacked us in the quarterback run game kind of like Baltimore did,” Davon Godchaux said. “Showed us some repeat plays that kind of beat us in the past. That’s what our defense is struggling with. Quarterback runs are killing us right now.”
Fields’ athleticism extended beyond the running game, as well. He made life difficult for Patriots pass rushers and extended several plays with his legs before scrambling for first downs or finding an open receiver down field.
“Early they had some kind of moving the pocket plays, boot plays, roll pass, to get them more comfortable,” McCourty said. “But then, just some big third downs where he was able to scramble, by time, throw some passes on the run. Things that we knew coming in. I would just say overall, across the board, as a team, it was just a poor showing. Across the board, from beginning all the way to the end.”
Despite struggling to start the year, Fields showcased his potential in primetime Monday night while shredding the New England defense. It was the kind of performance the Bears expected out of their 23-year-old when they traded up to draft him.
“I think we kind of had no answers for him,” Matthew Judon said.