Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
With the Bears eliminated from playoff contention, what do you think will be their main emphasis over the final four games of the season?
As a team, I imagine that the Bears will put a huge emphasis on learning how to win, especially when it comes to finishing close games. The offense has exceeded virtually all expectations this season in terms of putting points on the board and moving the ball, but the unit has struggled on late drives when the Bears have needed to produce a tying or go-ahead score. Center Sam Mustipher had some interesting comments earlier this week about the importance of learning how to win, saying: "It's tough, but I mean, this is the NFL. We're a young offense, a young group. You have to learn how to win football games. There's a lot of veteran teams around the league and you can kind of see it. They know how to win. They know what it takes. And not that we don't know what it takes to win; we know what it takes. But it's all 11 guys being on the same page, not shooting ourselves in the foot, getting behind the sticks on first down. When you have one falloff here or there as an offense, it makes it hard to go down the field." Bears coach Matt Eberflus also spoke to reporters about learning how to close out games, saying: "[It's] really just about finishing. That's for our whole football team, finishing games and finishing the half the right way and finishing the games the right way, and that's really a whole team effort, to be able to finish those things out on offense, defense and kicking. So that will be the biggest emphasis."
I have noticed that Chase Claypool has not been getting as many targets with the Bears as he did with the Steelers. There he averaged close to six targets a game and here only four. Do you attribute that to him not knowing the new playbook fully, Justin Fields not quite in sync with him yet or possibly something else?
Coach Matt Eberflus indicated earlier this week that receiver Chase Claypool is still in the process of learning the nuances of the offense, particularly when it comes to alignment, assignment and route depths. Said Eberflus: "I wouldn't say he's there yet. I would say he's getting there. He's getting there and working there just like everybody else. It's all new to him and there's a lot of volume of offense that he has to learn and he's getting there."
Justin Fields throws and runs for touchdowns and should be able to catch a touchdown pass on a trick play. Has a quarterback ever accomplished all three of those things in a game in NFL history?
Since 1946, 12 NFL players have recorded a rushing touchdown, passing touchdown and receiving touchdown in a game. All 12 have been running backs, so Justin Fields would be the first quarterback to achieve the feat. The only Bears player who's done it—not surprisingly—is Walter Payton, on Oct. 21, 1979, in Minnesota. In a 30-27 loss to the Vikings, the Hall of Fame running back rushed for a 2-yard TD, caught a 2-yard TD pass from Bob Avellini and threw a 54-yard TD pass to Brian Baschnagel. Only one NFL player has accomplished the feat since 2005: Christian McCaffrey did it for the 49ers about a month and a half ago (Oct. 30) in a 31-14 win over the Rams.