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4 things we learned from Bears coordinators

Bears coordinators Luke Getsy, Alan Williams and Richard Hightower
Bears coordinators Luke Getsy, Alan Williams and Richard Hightower

Bears coordinators Luke Getsy (offense), Alan Williams (defense) and Richard Hightower (special teams) spoke to reporters Wednesday at Halas Hall. Here are four things we learned from those sessions:

(1) Getsy continues to marvel at Justin Fields' sensational dual-threat ability.

The dynamic second-year quarterback produced more "wow" plays last Sunday against the Eagles, most notably a 39-yard scramble that set up a touchdown. On second-and-27, Fields dropped back to pass, twisted out of the grasp of top pass rusher Haason Reddick and took off up field. Fields eluded linebacker T.J. Edwards and spun away from cornerback James Bradberry before stepping out of bounds at the 9.

"What's special with him is that when we can get other people in space, he does a good job of finding them," Getsy said. "And then when we get him in space, he does incredible things. My eyes were watching the play; where he should be throwing the ball. And then next thing I know, I look back and now it's in this mode. And then how he finished that run, it was pretty incredible."

Fields broke Bobby Douglass' record for rushing yards by a Bears quarterback on the 39-yard run and later became just the third quarterback in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards rushing, joining Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson. Fields' three TD runs of at least 50 yards this season (61, 67 and 55) are more than any other quarterback has had in their entire career. 

"He's made some incredible plays," Getsy said. "I think I've gone to 'Flus' (coach Matt Eberflus) every single time and I'm like, 'That was the most incredible thing I've seen.' To be able to say that multiple times is pretty cool."

(2) Williams saw signs of progress from the defense against a potent offense.

The Bears faced a difficult task versus the Eagles, who arrived at Soldier Field leading the NFL in scoring (29.7 points per game) with a quarterback in Jalen Hurts who topped the league in passer rating (108.4) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (22-3).

After failing to register a takeaway in four of its previous five games, the defense produced three takeaways—including two interceptions—and held Hurts to a 59.5 passer rating, his third lowest of the season.

"The week before that, we said that we've had a dry spout with turning the football over," Williams said. "So, this past week, we had three turnovers. I come out of that going, 'Hey, nice job. We get what we emphasize.'"

Williams was also pleased with a run defense that limited the Eagles to 3.4 yards per carry (112 yards on 33 attempts). It was a vast improvement over the previous game when the Packers averaged 5.5 yards per rush, with 175 yards on 32 carries.

"We came out of the [Packers] ballgame saying, 'Hey, we want to make sure that we stop the run,'" Williams said. "[The Eagles were] a very prolific run game last week. We did that for the most part except for maybe a third down where we let the quarterback out. But we stopped the run. It was, what, 3.4 yards per carry?"

The Bears spent a chilly Wednesday afternoon on the practice fields at Halas Hall getting ready for their Christmas Eve matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

(3) Williams wasn't surprised with how well undrafted rookie Jack Sanborn performed this season.

"Why put a ceiling on a guy?" Williams said. "Sometimes a guy like Jack doesn't get drafted because you go, 'Hey, he didn't put up some of the numbers and the other guys get drafted sooner because they can run.' Our guys do a phenomenal job—I'm talking about the front office, Ryan Poles and his crew. They do a phenomenal job of just looking at the tape first and going, 'This guy's a football player. This guy's tough. He finds the ball, hits the ball.'"

Sanborn, who sustained a season-ending ankle injury against the Eagles, excelled in six starts after the trade of Roquan Smith, registering 59 tackles, 2.0 sacks and five tackles-for-loss.

"Coach [Matt] Eberflus would say the No. 1 job of a linebacker is to hit the football," Williams said. "Jack did that at Wisconsin at a high level. He did it in high school at a high level. Usually [when] those guys do that, it translates, usually it translates over. Jack, he just doesn't run a 4.4, but he's a football player. So, no, I was not surprised."

(4) Hightower does not believe that missing kicks in recent games has caused Cairo Santos to lose any confidence.

Santos has missed five kicks in his last five games, three extra points and two field goals. Prior to that stretch, he had made 92 percent of his field goals (69 of 75) and 95 percent of his extra points (77 of 81) since joining the Bears in 2020.

"I don't think it's anything that's got to do with his confidence," Hightower said. "I think he's a confident person. He does a really good job. He's a technician. He just had a rough go where he missed a couple kicks. That happens to any player, like a player could have a couple drops catching passes. It's just more magnified because it's the kicker and everybody thinks you should make every kick."

After missing his first extra point against the Eagles, Santos moved the ball from the right hash to the middle of the field and made his next two tries.

"He's got to get better on his extra points," Hightower said. "He's been doing really well on field goals. But I think the change he's made has helped him. We'll continue to coach him and help him out. We've got full confidence and expect him to make his kicks this week."

It's easy to assume that Santos' misses have become a mental issue, but Hightower doesn't feel that's the case.

"A lot of times with kickers, people don't know how to coach technique, so everybody says, 'Oh, it's in his head, it's mental,'" he said. "Well, did you look at his plant foot? Did you look at the ball flight? Did you know the wind and which direction the wind was going? Do you know what it means when the ball is not at 'six o'clock laces' or 'three o'clock laces?'

"It may not be mental at all, but I think that's a lot of people's crutch because they don't know what six o'clock laces are. They don't know what three o'clock laces are. They don't know if a target's off snap and we don't spin it right, how it can affect the kicker. With this kid, I don't think it's mental. I think we've just got to get back to work."