Tom Moore is renowned as one of the greatest quarterback coaches in NFL history. He is best remembered for overseeing the rise of Peyton Manning as one of the two or three best signal-callers of all time. Part of that success came from how Moore handling practices as the offensive coordinator. One thing that stuck out almost immediately was how Manning got nearly every single rep in passing drills. When asked why he didn’t give more to the backups, the man delivered a quote that passed into football folklore. “Fellas, if ’18’ goes down, we’re fucked. And we don’t practice fucked.” Crude but astute, as was always his reputation. It would appear the Chicago Bears are adopting that same approach with Justin Fields.
Fans and media alike were driven crazy by head coach Matt Nagy’s handling of the quarterbacks last year. Nowhere did it get more egregious than training camp, where Andy Dalton worked exclusively with the first-team offense. Fields worked with the second and Foles the third. Considering how few reps players get each day, this felt misguided in several ways. By spreading them out like that, it risked ensuring none of the quarterbacks were prepared for the season. Considering how bad Dalton and Fields looked as starters, those fears were proven accurate.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has no intention of making that same mistake. According to Bears insiders Adam Hoge and Adam Jahns on their podcast, Fields has gotten almost every single rep in practice since drills began in May.
Justin Fields is getting every chance to master the new offense.
Getsy knows the wide zone system is difficult to learn. While the coaching staff is filled with men who understand how to teach it, the fact is this may take time before players start to understand how it’s supposed to work. If the Bears want Fields to play well this year, they can’t afford to waste any opportunity in helping him grasp it. If that means giving him every single rep in practice at the cost of the backups, then so be it.
It isn’t like Trevor Siemian is in desperate need of them. He’s already familiar with the system, having played in it for two years with the Denver Broncos in 2015 and 2016. Third-stringer Nathan Peterman likely won’t be on the roster when the season kicks off. So Getsy knew exactly what he was doing when practices began. All that matters is getting Justin Fields ready for the season because he is probably their only hope of making noise in 2022, given where the roster is at.
Hard to fault them for such an approach.
If it was good enough for Manning, it is good enough for Fields. One can safely assume the young quarterback loves the approach. It finally gives him a sense of command and control over the offense. He can build chemistry with his receivers and tight ends. Miscommunications won’t be as frequent. Timing will improve. Fields will be far better prepared. Injuries are an inevitable risk in the NFL. Chicago is willing to chance the backups losing reps if it gives him better odds to excel.
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