Bear Minicamp Observations: Justin Fields, the offensive has a long way to go


Bear Minicamp Observations: Justin Fields, the offensive has a long way to go

LAKE FOREST — During the OTAs’ most recent practice, the Bears offense struggled to gain ground.

During the first mandatory mini-camp practice at Halas Hall, it was almost the same Tuesday.

With umpires in attendance, head coach Matt Eberflus chose to drop the scripted plays and let his offense go versus defense to simulate a game-like environment.

This eight-game sequence began with Justin Fields beating Darnell Mooney on a crossroads route for a decent pick-up.

A false start by rookie left tackle Braxton Jones put the offense behind the sticks. But Fields brought the offense out of a tight spot, hitting the running back David Montgomery with a swing pass for a short win before hooking up obliquely with Equanimeous St. Brown for a chunk play.

Then the offensive faltered.

Fields threw incomplete for Velus Jones Jr. at left, and the defense blew a throw to Khalil Herbert in the next game to create third and long place. Fields connected with St. Brown on a curl route 1 yard from the sticks. The Bears made it fourth and 1, but the offensive line was called for a false start that ended the period.

Eberflus noted that Fields and the offensive are very early in the install. That, and the nature of unpadded training, can lead to more errors than you might see in a training session where the game in progress is a legitimate threat.

“I would just say we keep working to get better at everything – the footwork, the timing and just keep working at it,” Eberflus said of Fields and the offense. “I think it’s a little bit because in that setting here you don’t get as much pass time because you’re not really running the ball. It gets almost like passing camp at times because the nature of the business has you working on your passing game.

“So I think once we put the pads on those windows will become clearer and more open, so I’m looking forward to seeing that.”

Fields ended up with a hard stretch in the 11-on-11 portion of practice.
It started with Jaylon Johnson jumping an out route destined for Nsimba Webster and taking it back for a pick six.

Fields was then knocked down with a pass by Micah Dew-Treadway before missing on his next attempt to complete the rough sequence.

“How do you answer?” Eberflus said when asked what he wanted to see from Fields after those plays. “Bounce. Bounce. We all get knocked down, right? All of us. We all get knocked down in life. How are you? Bounce. Just get up, next game.

“That’s what I want to see from all our players and that’s important. We all will have adversity. You have to level up and go to the next piece. I want to see that from him and the rest of the team too.”

The bears’ offense is deadlocked in sessions the media has been able to see. But some of their fights could be the result of a defense that seems to have already bought into Eberflus’ all-intensity, all-time mantra.

“Definitely a lot,” Mooney said when asked how defense challenges offense. “We found that the first couple of weeks where they got the ball out and they hit the ball out was everywhere. The way they run to the ball makes you scream and want to finish to the end zone because you have guys yelling at you and running at you fast.

“That will definitely help us. Just to be able to cope and understand that the boys will keep coming.

Fields admitted he and the offense still have a long way to go but was adamant they will be ready when Week 1 comes around.

“I think for me it’s just not making the same mistake twice,” Fields said. “If you make that one mistake in a game, just don’t make it again. Ultimately, if you keep getting better and better and keep growing, there will be fewer mistakes every day and of course you are exactly where you want to be.

More Notes from Day 1 of Mandatory Minicamp:

— Robert Quinn was not present on Tuesday. Eberflus appeared disappointed that the veteran edge-rusher opted not to appear but said he would let general manager Ryan Poles sort it out. The absence was not excused.

— Offense guard Dakota Dozier had to be pulled from practice with what appeared to be a leg injury. Dozier, who is expected to be in contention for the right guard starting spot, saw the action prior to his injury primarily as a left guard replacement.

– The Bears’ first offensive line on Tuesday saw Braxton Jones at left tackle, Cody Whitehair at left guard, Lucas Patrick at center, Sam Mustipher at right guard and Larry Borom at right tackle. Teven Jenkins worked as the second-team right tackle.

Eberflus said the Bears would stick to that alignment for the rest of the minicamp before deciding how to advance into training camp.

“So we just evaluate the talents of the guys, evaluate their ability and go from there,” Eberflus said. “You want to start refining it. Guys who get the same looks all the time, ‘I play right guard, I play right tackle’” and they sort of get the same looks, the same mechanics. The technical mechanics to play the position. We want to refine that; the sooner the better. We just don’t have an answer for that right now.”

– Jaquan Brisker also took fields, but that one was on receiver Dazz Newsome, who bounced a ball off his hands and into the arms of the Bears’ rookie safety.

— Kyler Gordon and Al Quadin-Muhammad were present but did not attend the training.

– Rod Marinelli watched practice on Tuesday and will speak to the team on Wednesday.

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