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Fields intends to be more aggressive in passing game

Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

Justin Fields conceded Wednesday that he didn't throw downfield as much as he probably could have in last Sunday's season-opening loss to the Packers.

The Bears quarterback told reporters that he discussed the matter with coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

"I felt like I was a little bit too conservative at times during the game," Fields said. "Definitely with guys like DJ [Moore] and Chase [Claypool] on the outside, if we do have 1-on-1 on the outside, potentially throwing it up and seeing what happens. With them, they're great playmakers and they can most likely come up with a 50-50 ball. Definitely want to give them more chances deep down the field."

Fields completed 24 of 37 passes for 216 yards against the Packers, throwing only five passes that traveled more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Eberflus was asked Wednesday whether the lack of downfield passes was due to scheme or execution.

"I don't think it's a schematic thing," Eberflus said. "When you're taking your shot down the field on a 50-50 ball, you've got to let it ride. If the [defender's] really on top of the [receiver], which I think was the case a couple times, then it's just the discernment of the quarterback. If he's real high on him, then you just go ahead and go to your next read. But we certainly have some guys that can get some 50-50 balls. If you feel good about where the location is of the corner, we're going to send it up."

It isn't easy completing deep passes against a Packers defense that frequently drops into zone coverage with safeties stacked over the top to prevent big plays.

"That's how Green Bay's defense is built," Fields said. "They make the quarterback take those checkdowns and make you drive down the field. And that's probably how most defenses are built nowadays in the NFL. They want to protect against explosives, take away the deep plays and stuff like that.

"Of course, we want to be able to take calculated shots throughout the game. And when we call those plays, you've just got to take 'em up and throw it up there. A receiver might have to make a contested catch to make a big play. But I mean, yeah, their defense is built for that, to make you go and drive down the field."

Full steam ahead

Receiver Chase Claypool was targeted twice against the Packers but did not make a catch. Asked how to get the fourth-year pro back on track this week, Fields said: "Just keep going at it. I think the biggest thing is just having that same mentality as he did in camp and just keep working hard every day and just keep going."

"He probably didn't have the game he wanted to have, probably wanted to have more catches," Fields said. "We all probably didn't have the game that we wanted to have. Just keep working, keep getting better, and I think that's the theme of this week. The theme of today is work towards 1-0 on Sunday. Just get ready to play."

Rookie on the rise

Fields continues to be impressed by rookie running back Roschon Johnson. In his NFL debut last Sunday, the fourth-round pick from Texas rushed for 20 yards on five carries and led the Bears with six receptions for 35 yards.

"I think since Day 1 he's kind of a grown man, to be honest with you," Fields said. "He has handled himself as a grown man. He has come in here and worked. He is always one of the last ones off the field. Every day after practice, every time we need to throw extra, he's always right there to catch.

"His first game, we asked him to do a lot from a lot of different positions. Running back, of course. He was lined up as a receiver a couple times. He handled it very well. I am definitely proud of him for doing that. For getting so much put on his plate and the way he handled it, I am just excited for him and his future and what he's going to be able to do for us and this team."

The Bears were back on the practice fields at Halas Hall Wednesday afternoon to continue their preparation for Sunday's Week 2 road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What can Brown do for you?

After playing in 16 games and missing one contest with a concussion last season, receiver Equanimeous St. Brown was a healthy scratch against Green Bay.

Asked what the Bears missed by not having the sixth-year pro active, Fields said: "He's a great run blocker for us. He always has been since last year and he knows the playbook like the back of his hand. He's really smart. I think he's a leader in the receiver room. So just that part. Perimeter blocking, he's really good at that. I think that's probably one thing that we missed."

St. Brown also contributed in the passing game last year, registering 21 catches for 323 yards and one touchdown.

"He's savvy, knows how to change directions pretty good, quality hands, and he's always going to be on time with the quarterback," Fields said. "He's going to run the right route at the right depth and be at the right place at the right time. You just get dependability. He's very reliable in the passing game."