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Justin Fields, Chicago Bears Find Formula For Success In TNF Win

Oct 5, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) scrambles against the Washington Commanders during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Talent was never a question with Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields. He's a 6-foot-3, 227-pounder who runs a 4.46 and has a flak cannon attached to his torso. There aren't many of those guys lying around. 

How to unlock those tools has always been the question in Chicago. The Bears didn't have an answer for the first two years and change of Fields' career. Fields had to sink or swim, and he did much more sinking than swimming. 

A second season in Luke Getsy's offense was supposed to change that this season, but that didn't look like the case early on. Fields was right back to taking sacks all over the place, throwing late and generally looking helpless as the rest of the offense cratered around him. 

On the Right Track

Finally, against the Washington Commanders on Thursday night, things looked different. The Bears found an identity in their 40-20 victory. 

Fields was dealing in the first half, and he started hot right out of the gate. On the game's first play, Fields threw a screamer deep down the right sideline that Darnell Mooney didn't track well, and it fell incomplete. 

That kind of missed opportunity would usually bomb a Bears drive instantly, but Fields came right back and found DJ Moore wide open on the other side the next play. 

Two plays later, Fields put a Cover 2-hole shot to Moore in the back left corner on the money for a touchdown. It's a real big boy NFL throw. It was clear Fields came to play. 

Fields rode the confidence high and started playing like a different quarterback than we'd ever seen from him. He was playing faster and more decisively. Suddenly, timing routes in the short area didn't look laborious. 

Fields started trusting Moore come hell or high water, which is exactly why the Bears brought in a receiver of his caliber. 

Fields even added a little touch to his game that we rarely see. The end zone throw to Moore on a double move looked like it was dropped ever so softly into the perfect spot by an angel. 

Things hit a lull in the second half, but Fields wasn't totally out of juice. With four-and-a-half minutes left in the fourth up 10, Fields threw a dart to Moore on the left sideline. Washington's corner tried to jump the route, but he was a beat late and gave Moore a free run to the end zone. Ballgame.

What's convenient is Fields' hot first half and cold second half paint a clear picture of why the Bears offense finally looked dangerous for a second. 

Running Game Is a Must

When the Bears were rolling early, they were running the ball well. Running backs Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson combined for a 46.2 percent rushing success rate, almost all of which came in the first half and early third quarter before both players left because of injuries. 

Fields was moving it on the ground, too. He finished with 11 carries for 57 yards. Ten of those carries were by design, and he notched a stunning 70 percent success rate. 

The Bears then leveraged their run game into passing success. Not only was Fields operating from easier down-and-distance situations on the whole, but the Bears strung together a few play-action strikes on early downs to make things simple. 

That blend helped take stress off the quarterback and the offensive line, allowing Fields to play faster and let it rip. 

All that only fell apart when all the Bears' running backs were out of the game with injuries. Yes, all of them. Johnson left with a concussion, Herbert left with a knee injury, and Travis Homer left with a hamstring issue. All the Bears had left in the backfield was FB Khari Blasingame for most of the second half. 

For context, Blasingame succeeded on just two of his eight rushes. He more than doubled his career carries in a night. As you might expect, the run game died altogether, and with it, the structure of the system kind of crumbled, leaving Fields gasping for air again. 

While it was less than ideal for the moment, the Blasingame emergency running back situation made it painfully obvious what the Bears need to be on offense. It was a reminder of what the offense looks like when they can't be balanced. 

The offensive line falls apart, the lack of receiving talent outside of Moore becomes exposed, and Fields falls back into some of his bad habits. 

Bears' Formula Is Set

That should only make the Bears feel better about what they did in the first half. It's what the formula should have been all along: commit to the run game, use Fields' legs and throw over the top of defenders biting to play the run fake or at cornerbacks left in 1-on-1 coverage because the defense is loading the box. 

Nothing about that formula is unique or ground-breaking, but it's what Fields needs. It's kind of what they were doing at the end of last season when Fields looked halfway viable. That the Bears couldn't find a way to make any of that work for the first three weeks of the season is mind-numbing.  

The offense has a real shot when they can marry the run-and-pass game a it did on Thursday night. The Bears are not going to be world-beaters, but that's OK. Nobody expected them to be. 

All they need to be is competent and stable enough to let Fields prove he's the guy or not without having to worry about extenuating factors mucking up the picture. A single win with this structure isn't proof of anything yet. Fields and the Bears need to prove it over the long haul — and against better defenses, for that matter. 

This is a start, though. The path to success has become clearer than it's ever been before for this offense. Now, the Bears must prove they can follow that path all the way to its beautiful end. 

Derrik Klassen is an NFL and NFL Draft film analyst with a particular interest in quarterbacks. Klassen’s work is also featured on Bleacher Report and Reception Perception. You can follow him on Twitter (X) at @QBKlass.