This can’t always be easy for Luke Getsy.
After leaving the Green Bay Packers and the privilege of working with a four-time MVP quarterback in a high-powered offense, there have to be days when the headaches at Halas Hall are intense, when the urge to treat to accelerate the growth of the The Chicago Bears offense breeds impatience and frustration.
Quarterback Justin Fields, in his second training camp and only 10 career starts, is not Aaron Rodgers, who has won more division championships (eight) than Fields has touchdown passes.
The Bears, who have averaged 319 yards and 20.7 points over the past two seasons, are not the Packers (377 yards and 29.1 points per game during that span). So naturally, what Getsy works on a daily basis in Lake Forest bears little resemblance to the machine he helped operate in Green Bay.
With two preseason games and three weeks to go before Week 1 practices begin, the Bears’ offense is still trying to find stability down the line as it looks for healthy, productive playmakers in the passing game.
So how has Getsy handled his transition to offensive coordinator for the Bears in recent months? How has he learned to recalibrate his patience levels so that he can quell any bubbling upheaval with an adequate dose of perspective?
“There’s a balance between demand and patience,” Getsy said, “and setting an expectation and letting them know that some things (muttering) aren’t okay. Then at some points you should always remember to pat them on the back too and let them know you care about them. Because I do.
“Still, there also has to be a demand. There has to be an expectation. We set our standards very high. And I don’t care if it was three months or three years after this. We have to meet those standards.”
Getsy seemed calm Monday after Practice 14 of the Bears’ training camp. Two days removed from a 19-14 preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field, he recognized the obvious need for his offense to grow.
Fields oversaw three possessions and took 18 snaps. The Bears punted on all three drives and won just four first downs. More production will be needed when games count next month.
At the same time, Getsy admired Fields’ poise and determination. He was pleased with the Bears’ rally mechanics, quarterbacks’ use of cadences and the ability of the offense as a whole to avoid sloppiness and pre-snap penalties.
The thumbnail review of Fields’ first playing opportunity of 2022?
“It was a good start for him,” Getsy said, “but not where he needs to be.”
As the Bears turn their attention to a second preseason game Thursday night at Lumen Field against the Seattle Seahawks, here are four other notable things Getsy shared.
Getsy was asked specifically about Fields’ first-quarter scramble that went into the playbook as a sack after he shot out of the pocket to his right and slid down the line of scrimmage.
Most Bears fans were upset about the hit Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill took on Fields while he was sliding, insisting a personal foul should have been called. But Getsy seemed more concerned with Fields’ decision-making during that sequence, criticizing his choice to come out of a fairly clean pocket without properly analyzing his reads.
“He went way too fast,” Getsy said. “He skipped No. 2 in his progression. … That was the one play I honestly wish I had back for him.”
Teachable moment? Absolutely. Reason to worry? Not yet.
That’s an area of Fields’ game that he’ll have to continue to sharpen, developing instincts about when to take off and when to hang on.
Deep in training camp now, Fields has had a high volume of dive-and-run situations during practices. Those have come for many reasons.
The offensive line has been shaky at times. The revolving door of receivers Fields has worked with has created problems with timing and separation. And Fields has turned on the jets as an option periodically, sometimes using one of his greatest strengths wisely, while other times taking off when he would have been better off standing in the pocket or activating a mock scramble.
For Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko, Saturday’s moment is one to highlight in the teaching process.
“He had a chance to hang on maybe a little longer,” Getsy said.
So how can the Bears coach feel that in Fields?
“That’s experience,” Getsy said. “I mean, he’s 23, right? You can only get that by playing. And practices are great, but it’s not a game. That’s why it’s important for him to get some reps in every preseason game, just to get that under his belt. So I think the more he plays this year, the better he gets with that feeling.
“Pocket presence is not an easy thing to teach. But he has the toughness and the guts to do it.”
It would be unfair at this point to consider Fields nervous in the pocket. Not even close. His 19-yard completion to Tajae Sharpe to convert a third-and-9 on the Bears’ third possession was an example of his nerve and willingness to stand his ground and shoot while making the right throw under pressure.
Getsy identified that trait in Fields a long time ago, even if Saturday was his first chance to see him as Fields’ coach.
“When you’re evaluating quarterbacks, that’s one of the first things I look for: someone who has the willingness to stand there, make his throw with his feet on the ground and take a hit to the jaw,” Getsy said. “He definitely has that.”
Getsy was also quick to point out that he would emphasize improving footwork with all three of his quarterbacks — Fields, Trevor Siemian and Nathan Peterman — after Saturday’s performance left much to be desired.
“Time and pacing wise, they were a little off,” Getsy said. “The juices were flowing a little bit.”
The Bears are trying to program Fields not only to understand the timing of his plays, but also to feel the timing of those plays. And that feeling often starts with the feet. So keep an eye out in the coming weeks to see if Fields can meet the schedule within the passing snaps at a level that pleases his coaches.
“In college, you have a little more time to throw the ball than you do in the NFL,” Getsy said. “So (now) your shot clock is much faster. We must listen much more to the feet at our level. And when your feet tell you that a guy isn’t open, it’s time to move on and move on. You can’t hold on.
“That is the most important. It’s just the pace, it’s the time clock with which we are training to the fullest. He’s starting to (get it) and he’s doing a really good job of it.”
Getsy identified two plays in Monday’s practice in which Fields seemed tempted to break the pocket to get moving, but didn’t.
“He was like, ‘Wait. The pocket is great. Let me relax. And it was great to see him respond that way.”
The dynamic for a game caller is different close to the action than from a bird’s eye view, but separate from the intensity. Getsy said he prefers the point of view and the feel on the field.
“There’s a comfort to being in the field,” he said. “You can look someone in the eye, have a conversation with them, get to see what they really feel when you ask them a question. You can have great conversations with everyone on offense and not just the quarterback.
“I am a person who feels. He shoots, when I play golf, if I can’t see him, he gets ugly. But if I can see it and feel it, it’s going pretty well. And I’m the same way with this game. I like to see it and feel it. And I feel like I see the game, honestly, better from the field.”
Rookie Braxton Jones played 18 snaps at left tackle on Saturday and got this response from his coordinator: “It has to be better.”
Still, it’s notable that the Bears blew Jones out with the other starting offensive linemen, clearly feeling he has the best chance to be their Week 1 starter at left tackle. And even with an obvious need for improvement, Getsy is encouraged by Jones’ direction of development.
“I would say for a guy who just got here and has been put in one of the toughest positions in our game, he handled it really (well) to get a first shot,” Getsy said. “But we have to get it going.”
“In our system, guards get more mental stress than tackles,” Getsy said. “So he’s somebody where that’s the strength of his game. So we want to test that and see what it looks like within what we’re trying to do.”