NFC North Reporter
I know it’s the preseason. I know not all Week 1 starters were out there for either side. I know Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields passed for negative air yards.
But let’s have some fun.
Saturday was our first look at what all the new offensive additions could mean for Fields in a pivotal evaluation year for the third-year quarterback. And though Fields passed for those negative air yards, his final stat line after two series was 3-of-3 for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Fields had a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
It’s true those stats don’t even come close to telling the whole story. Fields’ first ever pass to new No. 1 wide receiver, D.J. Moore, went for a 62-yard touchdown.
But it started like this.
The short screen from Fields wasn’t accurate. But Moore made up for it. Along with left tackle Braxton Jones and left guard Teven Jenkins, who climbed to the second, and in Jenkins’ case, third levels of the defense to help pave the way for Moore. So did 5-foot-11 wide receiver Darnell Mooney, who also threw a block from his alignment just inside Moore. The result was a 62-yard catch-and-run that put the Bears on the board. As the Bears like to say, 1+2=6.
“As a receiver, for your first catch to go 60-yards, you can’t really draw it up any better,” said Fields on his touchdown to Moore. “It was awesome. I told [Moore], ‘that might be legendary right there.’ I know he was excited; he came over to the bench and was like, ‘I’m done for the rest of the game,’. It was just cool to see. I’m definitely excited for the weeks to come.”
The next series was also over in three plays as Fields recognized pressure, escaped and got the ball away to running back Khalil Herbert. He enlisted the help of right guard Ja’Tyre Carter and center Cody Whitehair. Not to be forgotten, rookie right tackle Darnell Wright completely dominated his defender and took him out of the play. Herbert then went the rest of the 56 yards for a house call. In the absence of David Montgomery, that’s exactly what the Bears were hoping Herbert could do.
After that, Fields was done.
On the surface, Fields had the gaudy stats Chicago needs him to have. Just below, you realize the bulk of the work was done by Moore and Herbert. Go deeper and it was a total team effort because… that’s what football is.
This is the fun part. There are 11 players on the field for a reason. There should be an encouraging, nay exciting, sentiment around this unit that has been so flat for so long. Fields did what he was supposed to do and now that the Bears have surrounded him with talent, lo and behold the system works.
“When you increase your skill on your football team the catches and the runs get larger, and the stat line looks better,” said head coach Matt Eberflus following the game. “So we are going to continue to do that, and certainly we are going to take our shots down the field as well, but it’s a good thing to see.”
This isn’t sustainable, of course. With a bigger sample size will come miscues and mistakes. But the preseason is for flashes. It’s for showing the potential of what a player or a team can be. And Chicago’s potential was on full display if for a moment on Saturday. It was enough to excite the fanbase and who are we to quell them?
“I don’t care if Fields has nothing to do with it,” one fan told me. “I just want offense.”
In a town that hasn’t had much consistent production on that side of the ball, well, ever, the showing from this year’s first-team offense means hope once again. And in a wide-open NFC North, it means a chance for success sooner than expected.
Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.
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