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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Jason Lieser

Bears want running to be part of QB Justin Fields’ game, but not the majority of it

Justin Fields became the third quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

MOBILE, Ala. — While Justin Fields has a long way to go as a passer and that will be vital in solidifying his place as the Bears’ franchise quarterback, he has established himself as the most explosive runner at the position. And the Bears would be crazy to try to scrub that from his game.

They want to reduce his reliance on scrambling, but it’s always going to be valuable.

“It’s got to be a part of who you are, [but] in the NFL, it’s hard for it to be who you are — you just don’t last,” Getsy said Wednesday. “It’s got to be a part of us and he’s really, really good at it. He’s really good at a lot of things. So we’ve got to make sure we just tap into each one of those things, but [running], for sure, has to be a part of who we are going forward.”

Fields led the Bears (and all NFL quarterbacks) with 1,143 yards rushing and eight touchdowns this season, but finished last among qualifying players at 149.5 yards passing per game. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, by contrast, had more than double that output.

The Bears need to discern exactly what was holding Fields back. If he’s indecisive and struggling to read coverages, that’s a difficult problem to fix. If his low passing production was more a result of the Bears’ fledgling, budget-friendly offensive line and skill player crew, those are areas general manager Ryan Poles intends to upgrade in free agency and the draft.

Nonetheless, Fields’ running ability is a good starting point in his development. Every team in the NFL wants a quarterback who can bail them out on third-and-long, and if Fields can do that with his legs, that’s an asset to the Bears.

“Just watch those championship games last week ... the extended play was the difference,” Getsy said. “That ability to extend the play is really difficult on a defense. It’s not just the ability to run, it’s the ability to create time where you can have those receivers have an opportunity to go do what they do.”

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