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5 things we learned from Bears coordinators


Bears coordinators Bill Lazor (offense), Sean Desai (defense) and Chris Tabor (special teams) spoke to the media Thursday at Halas Hall. Here are five things we learned from those sessions:

(1) Lazor knew that Justin Fields was ready to assume the starting quarterback position in part due to the steady growth he's shown in practice.

The rookie first-round draft pick from Ohio State was named the starter moving forward on Wednesday by coach Matt Nagy.

"I thought there was a very good jump in production in practice," Lazor said. "I guess I'm a little bit old school: I like to believe what I see. From the first start to the second start and as we keep going, it just keeps getting better, and I just believe that what you see happen on the practice field is going to translate. It's not always 100 percent, but I think the trends that you see on the practice field are what you can believe in."

After a disappointing loss to the Browns in his first NFL start, Fields helped lead the Bears to a decisive bounce-back win over the Lions. Coaches were impressed with the resiliency he displayed, along with his leadership and play-making ability. Fields completed the Bears' four longest pass plays of the season versus Detroit, connecting with Darnell Mooney for 64 and 32 yards and Allen Robinson II for 28 and 27 yards.

(2) Lazor praised Fields for his openness during game-planning meetings, something the coach feels is rare for 22-year-olds.

"For a rookie, I'm impressed with how open he's willing to be," Lazor said. "Sometimes young players aren't open. Sometimes young players don't want to tell you they don't like something because they might feel defensive as if, 'Oh, the coaches are going to think I can't get it.'

"Justin's very open and he'll say what he does and doesn't like. He's been very open, and that's been good. He really doesn't get defensive. He's willing to be coached."

Lazor believes that one reason Fields is so comfortable expressing his opinions about certain plays is because of the quality individuals he works closest with. That includes position coach John DeFilippo and veteran quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Nick Foles.

"I think the quarterback room that we have right now has helped that because you've got some really good people in the room," Lazor said. "They don't have to put guards up against each other. Coach DeFilippo, I think, fosters that. But I think it speaks to the character of the people in the room."

(3) Desai is pleased with a Bears pass rush that leads the NFL with 15 sacks through four games, but he understands there's still work to be done.

Eight different players have recorded at least half a sack. Robert Quinn leads the group with 4.5 sacks, followed by Khalil Mack (4.0), Roquan Smith (2.0), Mario Edwards Jr. (1.5), Bilal Nichols (1.0), Trevis Gipson (1.0), Akiem Hicks (0.5) and Angelo Blackson (0.5).

"The production is what is satisfying, and it's good to see those guys working together," Desai said. "They are collaborating. They are buying into what we are teaching in terms of rushing and coverage. It's a function of both. We believe in that. Those guys are winning their one-on-ones when they get their opportunities, and then we just try to keep moving that hat around and try to share the wealth as much as we can."

According to Desai, the Bears leading the NFL in sacks is not something that's frequently discussed in defensive meetings.

"It's been talked about," Desai told reporters. "A lot of it comes from you guys. You keep putting it out there, which is fine. They've earned it, to celebrate that. But like I told you guys in Week 1 and Week 2, it's only Week 4. We've got a lot of games left and we still want to ascend in how our trajectory is going and the quality of defense that we're playing. So, that's the biggest point of emphasis in meetings is to continue to grow."

(4) Desai has been impressed with what veteran linebacker Alec Ogletree, who signed with the Bears Aug. 4, has brought to the defense.

Ogletree ranks second on the team with 24 tackles this season. In last Sunday's win over the Lions, he recorded a team-leading and career-high 12 tackles while also leaping high to break up Jared Goff's pass intended for D'Andre Swift in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 5.

"He's done outstanding," Desai said. "He shows why he's been a successful player in this league. He's a leader. He's got a lot of veteran savviness. He understands the defense. He's a starting-caliber player."

Ogletree signed with the Bears after having appeared in 95 games with 94 starts over eight seasons with the Rams (2013-17), Giants (2018-19) and Jets (2020), tallying 679 tackles, 44 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and 12 interceptions, four of which he returned for touchdowns. He made an immediate impact with the Bears this summer, intercepting six passes in his first four practices at Halas Hall.

(5) Tabor is excited about adding veteran return specialist Jakeem Grant Sr., who was acquired by the Bears Tuesday in a trade with the Dolphins.

Selected by Miami in the sixth round of the 2016 draft out of Texas Tech, Grant has appeared in 70 games with eight starts for the Dolphins. He has averaged 9.7 yards with three touchdowns on 101 punt returns and 24.8 yards with two TDs on 89 kickoff returns.

"I've [coached] against him multiple times," Tabor said. "He's a guy that you fear. He's a guy that has speed, first-step quickness, can make you miss, can use all field zones, whether it's the boundary, the middle or take them to the field. So, he kind of opens some things up in that area. He's been a good player in this league and we're fortunate to have him."

Tabor was asked whether Grant could be ready to play Sunday when the Bears visit the Raiders in Las Vegas.

"I think that's always possible," Tabor said. "I just met him yesterday, so we're getting to know him, and as a coach you want to play to his strengths and figure out what his strengths are. Just studying him on tape through the years, you feel like you have some recollection of what he likes, but it's good to hear from the player, and then how does that fit with us? And if we've got to change some things to enhance his skill set, we can do that. That's easy. In my opinion, it's always about the player."