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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Should Bears’ Offense Be Passing More?

The Chicago Bears are a run-heavy offense. Starting quarterback Justin Fields attempted 11 passes in a 27-10 Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Bears ran the ball on 27 occasions against the Packers. It’s worth noting the Bears averaged 6.6 yards per carry. David Montgomery totaled 122 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries (8.1 yards per carry). Chicago’s current offensive philosophy isn’t sustainable, however. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy must unleash Fields and throw the ball more frequently.

Fields currently ranks 33rd in passing attempts through two contests. Last time I checked, there are 32 NFL franchises. The Bears are averaging a league-low 76.5 passing yards per game. Perhaps the most concerning aspect is that these numbers aren’t skewed by one performance. Fields completed 7-of-11 attempts for 70 yards and an interception against the Packers. In Week 1, Fields completed 8-of-17 passes for 121 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He’s yet to complete double-digit passes in a single appearance.

Fields doesn’t believe his lack of passing attempts relates to his staff’s lack of perceived faith in his throwing abilities.

“No, I don’t think so,” Fields said. “How many passes, how many runs we’re going to call, that’s Luke’s job,” Fields added. “Everybody in the building knows that Luke knows what he’s doing. We put full trust in him knowing that he’s going to put us in the best position to win,” Fields concluded.

It’s possible the Bears’ coaching staff is attempting to protect Fields behind a turnstile offensive line in pass protection. Center Sam Mustipher has struggled while replacing the injured Lucas Patrick, who’s a veteran of Getsy’s scheme. Mustipher has scored a pass blocking grade of 52.6 from Pro Football Focus through two weeks. In good news, Patrick has begun snapping again at practice. Bookend tackles Braxton Jones and Larry Borom have combined to allow three sacks. Pressure is coming from both the interior and edges.

Fields currently possesses the highest pressure percentage in the league at 56% despite fewer dropbacks. More passing attempts would undeniably lead to more sacks and quarterback hits. In a curious twist of events, Fields also has the longest average time before releasing the ball per snap in the NFL at 3.26 seconds. It’s worth acknowledging that number is slightly skewed by Fields escaping the pocket and extending throwing windows. Chicago’s offensive line must protect Fields with more success. Chicago’s pass-catching weapons need to get open. Fields must be more decisive and efficient in his decision-making. All three statements are independently accurate.

More passing volume will arrive for Matt Eberblus’ offense, whether welcomed or not. The rebuilding Bears will likely trail throughout the second half in most contests. It’s a likely outcome that would force Fields to throw the ball more consistently. Getsy and Co. can’t avoid the inevitable forever.

Chicago’s passing inefficiency is having an obvious impact on the production of their skill players. Darnell Mooney was expected to take a sizable step forward this season as the Bears’ No. 1 receiver. Mooney has been shockingly uninvolved. He’s recorded two receptions for four yards thus far. Getting Mooney going should be Getsy’s top priority. Tight end Cole Kmet has zero receptions on two targets.

Tough offensive showings are on deck for a retooling Bears franchise. That includes more passing volume. The offensive line remains a concern in pass protection, but it’s ultimately a necessary development given that Fields represents Chicago’s banner of optimism. Fields is the Bears’ most dynamic offensive player and it’s time to take the training wheels off.

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