MOBILE, Ala. – After watching Justin Fields make major strides in 2022, Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy expects the dynamic young quarterback to continue to ascend in 2023.
"I have great confidence in Justin," Getsy said Wednesday at the Senior Bowl, where he's serving as head coach of the American team.
"You saw the growth that he had from a year ago to where he's at now. He still has a long way to go as far as where we want to be, and he knows that. Nobody works harder than Justin. The kind of guy he is, the kind of leader that he is, I'm really excited to see what he's doing this coming season."
Fields blossomed into an electrifying playmaker in 2022, rushing for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns on 160 carries and throwing for 2,242 yards with 17 TDs, 11 interceptions and an 85.2 passer rating. His 1,143 rushing yards were the second most by an NFL quarterback behind only the Ravens' Lamar Jackson's 1,206 yards in 2019.
Fields also set a single-game record for rushing yards by an NFL quarterback with 178 Nov. 6 against the Dolphins. In addition, he became the first quarterback with three TD runs of at least 50 yards, the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era with a rushing TD in six straight games and the first quarterback to rush for at least 70 yards in five consecutive contests since at least 1950.
"I thought Justin did a good job," general manager Ryan Poles said during his end-of-season press conference Jan. 10 at Halas Hall. "I thought we changed a lot, we adapted, we tried to put him in a position to be successful. He showed the ability to be a playmaker, be impactful. He can change games quickly. Does he have room to grow? He does. He has to get better as a passer, and I'm excited to see him take those steps as we move forward."
Learning a new offense under Getsy, things clicked for Fields midway through the season. After passing for five touchdowns in his first seven starts, he threw for 12 TDs in his final seven games. In addition, Fields rushed for an average of 38.8 yards with one TD in his first five starts and 94.9 yards and seven TDs in his last 10 games.
Getsy said Wednesday that the most growth he saw from Fields in 2022 was "probably the leadership part of it."
"He came out of his shell and he really took command of the team," Getsy said. "His confidence grew, and all of that stuff is really important in taking a team where you want to go. The guy put the team on his back for a few weeks there and showed that he's able to do it. That leadership part of it was really cool for him."
The Bears led the NFL in rushing in 2022 for the first time since 1986. But their offense struggled in other areas. Getsy feels that the unit is headed in the right direction but must continue to improve.
"We have to grow," he said. "We have to be dynamic. We have to evolve even more if we're going to go where we want to go. We can't kind of sit still where we are at right now. We are going to use this offseason to get ourselves in a good place so that we can be dynamic when we get to this coming season."
Despite the Bears finishing with a disappointing record, Getsy saw signs of progress and reason for optimism.
"I think we grew every week," he said. "We got better each week, not just Justin but everybody. I was really proud of the guys. They stuck together. To go through a 3-14 season is not an easy thing, but you would never know that in our building. I think Flus (coach Matt Eberflus) did an unbelievable job keeping the team morale up. We did our part on the offensive side of the ball. I think if you came in our building, you saw we had fun while we were doing it.
"The relationships, the culture was set, but now it's time to take off. So, we've got to make sure that we do everything we can this offseason to get ourselves ready to rock and roll."