SEATTLE — Two thousand miles was a long way to go for a football series that lasted 10 plays and less than six minutes. But Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields at least had a few positives to review during the drive back from Seattle on Thursday night.
Bears coach Matt Eberflus limited many of his offensive starters to just the first series of the Bears 27-11 preseason win over Seahawks in the Lumen Field. He didn’t want to put too much into them since they played his first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs only six days before.
But that caution meant a limited sample size for Fields, whose steps are being watched for signs of progress in his second season.
So here’s what Fields can get out of his momentum: a better start, points on the board, a connection to tight end Cole Kmet and more work under new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.
Fields completed 5 of 7 passes for 39 yards, helping set up a 35-yard field goal by Cairo Santos, the first preseason points from the first-team offense after three scoreless drives in Game 1.
“The operation was good. His preparation was excellent,” Eberflus said of Fields. “He ran the offense the way we wanted, he had a good drive and made the field goal. it’s progress. And guys see more progress in practice sometimes, where his footwork is improving, the delivery of it when he feels pressure, how he slides into the pocket and delivers the ball. So he is getting better every day.”
The climax came when Fields faked a handball to Khalil Herbert, rolled to his left and found his second read, Kmet, wide open. Fields gave up a strike and Kmet drove an additional 8 yards for a 19-yard gain. Kmet also rumbled for a 12-yard gain on a short pass on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage.
“Cole is a great tight end. He can do just about anything,” Fields said. “He can block. He is a great trail runner. He has good hands, so he definitely brings another weapon to our offense.”
Fields has yet to play his full range of playmakers. Running back David Montgomery and wide receivers Byron Pringle, N’Keal Harry and Tajae Sharpe were among the players who sat out with injuries Thursday.
Kmet sat out the preseason opener due to injury, so the connection in Seattle was notable, with Kmet jumping up and hitting his helmet in celebration after the 19-yard catch.
“It gives you confidence,” Kmet said. “All the work that you put in during the offseason, the experience that I’ve had these last two years, continues to grow with every game that we play. It feels good.”
Not everything was good. Fields was under pressure several times during the series and the Bears failed to convert on two third downs.
On a chaotic third-and-3 play with Seahawks players all around him, Fields tried to drive toward the first-down marker, but his diving range was too short. He said later that he thought he was closer. But Seahawks outside linebacker Darrell Taylor fouled in the neutral zone on fourth-and-2, and the Bears got a first down.
On third-and-4 from the Seahawks 15-yard line, Fields threw a short pass to Herbert, who was hit for a 2-yard loss, and the Bears went to Santos.
“It was a zone, he should have worked to the middle of the field,” Fields said. “So that was my fault for sure.”
Most of the rest of the night was devoted to backups and rookies, including third-round wide receiver Velus Jones Jr., who had less of an impact on offense than he did with a 28-yard kickoff return and a return punt of 48. yards Right guard Teven Jenkins and right tackle Larry Borom also worked beyond the first drive.
The Bears now have five practices and three days off before their third and final preseason game against the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 27. Eberflus said the coaching staff is still determining whether Fields will play in that game and the pros and cons of such an appearance. .
For his part, Fields thinks he could benefit.
“I feel like every time I touch the field I can get something out of it,” Fields said. “Every time I go out on the field is an opportunity to improve.”