A Chicago Bears insider recently reported the high volume of screen pass attempts against the Minnesota Vikings Monday night was the choice of quarterback Justin Fields. Many Bears fans and pundits on social media (including me) were criticizing offensive coordinator Luke Getsy for his play calling.
Per Courtney Cronin with ESPN, Fields threw 13 screen passes against the Vikings and 21 total passes behind the line of scrimmage. Much of the quick passing was due to the Vikings’ pressure on Fields.
Per @ESPNStatsInfo, Justin Fields was blitzed on 52% of his dropbacks. The Bears tried to combat that with a horizontal passing game (13 screen passes) that led to Fields lowest air yards per attempt (2.4) and air yards per completion (1.9) of his career.
Fields threw 21 passes…
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) November 28, 2023
Brad Biggs claims the screen passes were on Justin Fields
While there is still room to complain about Getsy and the Bears’ offense, it appears much of the choice to throw screens came from Fields’ decision-making. Brad Biggs with the Chicago Tribune wrote that the decision to throw screen passes and the ineffectiveness of the result wasn’t all on Getsy. Biggs wrote many of the screen passes came on run-pass options play calls:
“After rewatching the game, my interpretation is a lot of these plays were RPOs, meaning Fields had the opportunity to run, hand the ball off or throw a screen. When he was checking to screens, it was a simple presnap numbers game.
The Vikings were overloading the defensive line throughout the game, and whether they were coming with pressure or dropping out, it didn’t matter. That’s a presnap count and with seven in the box on a lot of occasions, there was no place to run.
Throwing the ball on the perimeter is a quick and easy answer to pressure, and the Bears were totally overmatched by Minnesota’s pressure in the first meeting this season. Fields and the offense were paralyzed into the third quarter of that game before he was injured.
Throwing screens doesn’t require reading the defense. Count the numbers before the snap and let it rip. On some of the screens that didn’t work, it was a combination of lack of execution by the Bears and a good play by the Vikings on the edge because the numbers were there for the offense.”
Biggs’ explanation won’t stop Bears fans from wondering why Getsy continued to dial up RPOs throughout the game when they weren’t working. Biggs seems to think that was the only choice Getsy had.
And that might be the case–probably because Getsy’s offense sucks.
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