Chicago Bears OC Luke Getsy says Justin Fields is ‘light-years’ ahead of last offseason as the QB dives into work with new teammates
Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said he still has a a lot to learn about what the reshaped offense can do better in 2023.
Coaches are in the teaching phase with veteran players ahead of organized team activities later this month, and they only just got the rookies on the field Friday and Saturday to evaluate their movement, skills and learning ability at a two-day minicamp in Lake Forest.
But Getsy already can see how the competition at each position will improve with general manager Ryan Poles’ offseason additions — including wide receivers DJ Moore and Tyler Scott, running backs D’Onta Foreman and Roschon Johnson, offensive linemen Nate Davis and Darnell Wright and tight end Robert Tonyan.
And most important, Getsy believes quarterback Justin Fields is majorly improved as their second year working together picks up steam.
“Where he was at this time last year to where he is now, I think he’s just light-years ahead of where he was,” Getsy said. “And I feel like he has a ton more to grow going forward. So we’re excited to try to get the best out of him moving forward and keep working toward where we think he can go.”
The Bears had one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL last season, and it looks as if it could be strong again with the return of Herbert and the additions of Foreman in free agency and Johnson, a rookie out of Texas, in the draft’s fourth round. All will compete for playing time, Getsy said.
But the passing game averaged a league-worst 130.5 yards per game, and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko stated the obvious Saturday when he said, “We’ve got to take a step forward. That has to be a strong point in our game.”
With Fields, Janocko said the Bears are looking at what they did well last season — where they got a lot of completions, what they were doing mechanically to get those completions, how they stayed in rhythm during it — and trying to build on that. They also watched film of similar quarterbacks in similar offenses to see what works.
“Part of that (needed improvement) is rhythm and timing. That’s the footwork with Justin,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. “He’s been working on that really, really good in terms of the quick pass, dropback pass, movement pass, and he’s really made some big strides in that area coming in so farー on his own and now coming into the phase two (of the offseason), that first week. Then obviously acquiring the athletes that we have with DJ and Bobby (Tonyan). … We’re certainly enthused about those guys, adding that talent, a piece to our offense.”
When Poles traded the No. 1 pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a package of draft picks and Moore, Getsy received several texts from friends who coached in Carolina praising the type of person the Bears were getting in Moore — in addition to the 5,201 receiving yards he compiled in five seasons with the Panthers.
Now, Getsy said, it’s about Fields and Moore building the quarterback-receiver relationship. They’re still in the “getting to know each other” phase, throwing routes to get comfortable.
Fields will have to get comfortable, too, with Tonyan and Scott, the big-play threat the Bears drafted in the fourth round who said this weekend, “I’m just here to make his job easier.”
“As great of a quarterback as you can be or as great as a receiver can be, if there’s not a relationship and a connection between the two of them, then it doesn’t really matter,” Getsy said. “What’s cool is DJ’s experiences that he’s had, he’s had to play with a few different quarterbacks and a few different systems. So you can tell he doesn’t really get fazed by the new, which is going to be really good. Once those two can communicate with each other — body language, quick communication verbally and stuff — all that will get better as we get going.”
In addition to building a better roster around Fields — including Wright, the rookie right tackle Getsy said has “unbelievable” power and length to go with athleticism — Getsy stressed that he expects going into the second year with the same coaching staff should help them build together.
He said he spoke with former Bears All-Pro center Jay Hilgenberg about what continuity can do for a team.
“How they were able to play at such a high level because they had all played with each other for so long,” Getsy said. “He was giving me some deep insight: ‘Hey, we were playing this team and this two-wide technique was giving us problems in the middle of the game,’ and I’m like, ‘Hey, you block him and I’ll go around him and I’ll go block the Will.’ That wasn’t part of the play call. But that continuity that they had, that’s the next step. We have to get this group playing together as one, all 11 as one.”
With so many new pieces, the Bears have a lot of work to do in that regard.