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5 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 the media Thursday. Here are five things we learned from their sessions:

(1) Getsy marveled at Justin Fields' performance against the Dolphins, but acknowledged the quarterback still has room to improve.

The second-year pro earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after rushing for 178 yards—the most by a quarterback in NFL history in a regular-season game—posting a 106.7 passer rating and accounting for four touchdowns. 

"He did a lot of nice things," Getsy said. "He made some plays that were miraculous. I mean, they were pretty unbelievable. [But] we've got to make sure we keep eliminating those few [negative] plays in the game, [like] the interception that got called back. That's a play, he's got to just throw it away and move on to the next down. But there's plenty of good plays in there."

Late in the third quarter, Fields rolled to his right and was intercepted by Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who stepped in front of receiver Equanimeous St. Brown near the sideline. But the play was nullified due to offsetting penalties.

Fields' most impressive play of the game was a highlight-reel 61-yard touchdown run—the longest by a quarterback in Bears history.

"It was a pretty unbelievable play," Getsy said. "It probably should have been a 15- or 20-yard completion to [Darnell] Mooney. The way he slid up in the pocket, you want to see him keep his shoulders a little bit more perpendicular to the line of scrimmage and rip the ball. He was headed there, he just got there a tick late because he squared his shoulders and then it turned into an unbelievable play after that."

(2) Getsy lauded Fields' surrounding cast, starting with the offensive line that has helped the Bears score 94 points in their last three games.

The unit is a big reason the Bears lead the NFL in rushing, averaging 195.4 yards per game, and have become the first team since the 1976 Steelers to rush for at least 225 yards in four straight games.

"Their preparation during the week has been awesome," Getsy said. "The guys are getting it. They're sharp. They're on the same page and communication is really good. We've just got to make sure we keep building on that."

The line received a major boost last Sunday when left guard Cody Whitehair returned to action after missing four games with a knee injury. Veteran Riley Reiff has also performed well, starting the last two contests at right tackle.

"Riley's done a really nice job," Getsy said. "It probably played to his benefit probably a little bit kind of how it was a slow build to get him back ready to play some ball. What's most cool about him is the leadership part of it and the ball that he's played and how much he loves football."

Getsy also appreciates the contributions the receivers and tight ends have made in the run game.

"The demand on them to align correctly, to handle their assignment correctly is not an easy job," he said. "Those guys are doing a great job of giving not just Justin, but everybody who's touching the ball an opportunity to get some explosives. I think it's just a combination of everybody doing their job."

(3) Williams was impressed with how undrafted rookie Jack Sanborn played in his first NFL start at middle linebacker.

Asked if any individual stood out on what was a disappointing day for the defense against Miami, Williams named Sanborn, who tied for the team lead with seven tackles in his first NFL start. The Wisconsin product lined up at middle linebacker, with Nicholas Morrow moving to the weakside position following the trade of Roquan Smith.

"[Sanborn] looked like he belonged," Williams said. "Didn't have errors. Tackled well. Ran around well. You come out of that ballgame going, 'OK, step forward, now let's take one more step forward."

Sanborn especially excelled against the run.

"The No. 1 job of a linebacker is to hit the ball," Williams said. "Find the ball, hit the ball. That's the No. 1 job and he did that last week. That's a trait that he has: fast trigger. Sees it well and goes and gets it."

Asked how Sanborn can improve versus the pass, Williams said: "Just the quick twitch part, getting back to his spot, seeing the quarterback and go ahead and go. Sometimes when you have a rookie guy it's, 'hey, I want to be perfect. I want to please the coach.' Nope, just go out and play. He did a nice job at his spot."

(4) Although he doesn't coach Fields, Williams has enjoyed watching the emergence of the dynamic young quarterback.

In Fields' last three games, he has rushed for 320 yards and three touchdowns and thrown for 453 yards with six TDs, one interception and a 106.1 passer rating.

"Absolutely love it," Williams said. "It's a bright spot. It gives you a shot of adrenaline in your arm to say, 'Hey, our offense is scoring that many points. Defense, let's go.'"

Williams insists that he hasn't been surprised by how well Fields has played.

"I would say outside of the building people would go, 'man, that's a surprise,'" Williams said. "Inside the building we would go, 'nope.' If you see the way he works, the way he goes about his business, you see what he does in practice, you go, 'that's to be expected.' It was just a matter of time before it showed. We would just say that the last thing you see is a profit. That was coming. Everybody in the building knew that was coming; just a matter of when."

(5) Hightower has liked what he's seen from Velus Jones Jr. this week after the rookie was a healthy scratch versus Miami.

Jones was inactive after muffing two punts earlier in the season and dropping a long pass a week earlier in a loss to the Cowboys.

"I think his attitude is probably more determined," Hightower said. "I haven't seen anything negative. He's always working hard, always asking what he can do to get better."

Jones is part of a receiver room that recently added Chase Claypool and also includes Mooney, St. Brown, N'Keal Harry and Dante Pettis.

"They've got some guys in there," Hightower said. "That's a good thing. Hopefully we'll add more guys everywhere. That's what you want.

"He's just got to keep competing. This is a competitive business. It's a high-performance business. One thing that all high-performance people have in common is they've got to compete. They've got to fight. They've got to scratch. They've got to claw. They've got to have an urgency to get better, which he has, and just keep competing."