This can’t always be easy for Luke Getsy.
After leaving the Green Bay Packers and the privilege of working with a four-time MVP quarterback within a high-powered offense, there have to be days when the headaches at Halas Hall prove intense, when the urgency of trying to accelerate the growth of the Chicago Bears offense leads to impatience and frustration.
Quarterback Justin Fields, in his second training camp and with only 10 career starts, isn’t Aaron Rodgers, who has won more division championships (eight) than Fields has touchdown passes.
The Bears, who averaged 319 yards and 20.7 points over the last two seasons, aren’t the Packers (377 yards and 29.1 points per game during that span). So naturally, what Getsy is working with on a daily basis in Lake Forest bears little resemblance to the machine he helped operate in Green Bay.
With two preseason games and three weeks left before Week 1 practices begin, the Bears offense still is trying to find stability on the line while seeking healthy, productive playmakers in the passing game.
So how has Getsy handled his transition to Bears offensive coordinator the past few months? How has he learned to recalibrate his patience levels so he can quell any bubbling agitation with a proper dose of perspective?
“There’s a balance between demand and patience,” Getsy said, “and setting an expectation and letting them know it’s not OK for some things (to sputter). Then, at some points, you always have to remember to go pat them on the back, too, and let them know that you care about them. Because I do.
“Still, there has to be a demand too. There’s got to be an expectation. We set our standards really high. And I don’t care if it was three months or three years into this thing. We’ve got to meet those standards.”
Getsy seemed at ease Monday after the Bears’ 14th practice of training camp. Two days removed from a 19-14 preseason victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field, he acknowledged the obvious need for his offense to grow.
Fields oversaw three possessions and took 18 snaps. The Bears punted on all three drives and gained only four first downs. More production will be needed when the games count next month.
At the same time, Getsy admired Fields’ poise and determination. He was pleased with the Bears’ huddle mechanics, the quarterbacks’ use of cadences and the offense’s ability as a whole to avoid pre-snap sloppiness and penalties.
The thumbnail review of Fields’ first game opportunity of 2022?
“It was a strong start for him,” Getsy said, “but not where he needs to be.”
As the Bears turn their attention to a second preseason game Thursday night at Lumen Field against the Seattle Seahawks, here are four other notable things Getsy shared.
1. Justin Fields’ pocket presence, while steady overall, remains a work in progress.
Getsy was asked specifically about Fields’ first-quarter scramble that went into the game book as a sack after he squirted out of the pocket to his right and slid at the line of scrimmage.
Most Bears fans were in a lather about the hit Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill put on Fields as he slid, adamant that a personal foul should have been called. But Getsy seemed more concerned with Fields’ decision making during that sequence, criticizing his choice to exit a fairly clean pocket without properly working through his reads.
“He vacated too quickly,” Getsy said. “He skipped No. 2 in his progression. … That was the one play, honestly, I wish we had back for him.”
Teachable moment? Absolutely. Reason to worry? Not yet.
That’s an area of Fields’ game he’ll have to continue to sharpen, developing instincts for when to take off and when to hang in.
Deep into training camp now, Fields has had a heavy volume of tuck-and-run situations during practices. Those have come for many reasons.
The offensive line has been shaky at times. The revolving door of receivers Fields has worked with has created issues with timing and separation. And Fields has turned on the jets as a choice periodically, sometimes wisely using one of his bigger strengths while at other times taking off when he would have been better served standing in the pocket or triggering a scramble drill.
For Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko, the scramble-slide-sack moment from Saturday is one to highlight in the teaching process.
“He had a chance to maybe hang in there just a tick longer,” Getsy said.
So how can the Bears coach that feel into Fields?
“That’s experience,” Getsy said. “I mean, he’s 23, right? You can only get that by playing. And practices are great, but it’s not a game. That’s why it’s important he gets a few reps each preseason game, just to get that under his belt. Then I think the more he plays this year, the better he’s going to get with that feeling.
“Pocket presence is not an easy thing to teach. But he’s got the toughness and the guts to do it.”
2. Footwork remains a major focus for the coaching staff as it works to improve Justin Fields’ timing.
It would be unfair at this point to cast Fields as jumpy in the pocket. Not even close. His 19-yard completion to Tajae Sharpe to convert a third-and-9 on the Bears’ third possession was an example of his nerve and willingness to stand strong and take a shot while making the correct throw under pressure.
Getsy identified that trait in Fields long ago, even if Saturday was his first opportunity to see it displayed as Fields’ coach.
“When you’re evaluating quarterbacks, that’s one of the first things I’m looking for — somebody who has that willingness to stand in there, make your throw with your feet in the ground and get smacked in the jaw,” Getsy said. “He definitely has that.”
Getsy was also quick to point out he would be stressing improved footwork with all three of his quarterbacks — Fields, Trevor Siemian and Nathan Peterman — after Saturday’s performance left something to be desired.
“As far as timing and rhythm, they were off a little bit,” Getsy said. “The juices were flowing a little bit.”
The Bears are trying to program Fields not only to understand the timing of their plays, but also to feel the timing of those plays. And that feel often begins with the feet. So keep an eye in the coming weeks on whether Fields can stay on schedule within passing plays to a level that pleases his coaches.
“In college, you have a little bit more time to throw the ball than you do in the NFL,” Getsy said. “So (now) your shot clock’s way quicker. You have to listen to your feet a lot more at our level. And when your feet tell you a guy’s not open, it’s time to move on and go. You can’t hang on.
“That’s the biggest thing. It’s just the pace, it’s the time clock that we’re training the heck out of. He’s starting to (get it) and doing a really good job with it.”
Getsy identified two plays in Monday’s practice in which Fields seemed tempted to break the pocket to get on the move but didn’t.
“He was like: ‘Wait. The pocket’s great. Let me chill.’ And it was cool to see him respond that way.”
3. Luke Getsy will spend game days on the sideline rather than in the coaching booth.
The dynamics for a play caller are different close to the action than they are with a bird’s eye view but detached from the intensity. Getsy said he prefers the on-field vantage point and feel.
“There’s just a comfortability of being on the field,” he said. “You can look someone in the eye, have a conversation with them, get to see what they really feel when you’re asking a question. You can have great conversations with everybody on offense and not just the quarterback.
“I’m a feel person. Shoot, when I play golf, if I can’t see it, it gets ugly. But if I can see it and feel it, it goes pretty good. And I’m the same way with this game. I like to see it and feel it. And I feel like I see the game, honestly, better from the field.”
4. Luke Getsy was blunt with his assessment of two young offensive linemen.
Rookie Braxton Jones played 18 snaps at left tackle Saturday and received this feedback from his coordinator: “It’s got to be better.”
Still, it’s notable that the Bears removed Jones with the other starting offensive linemen, clearly feeling he has the strongest chance to be their Week 1 starter at left tackle. And even with obvious need for improvement, Getsy feels encouraged about the direction of Jones’ development.
“I would say for a guy who just got in here and has been put in one of the toughest positions in our game, he handled it really (well) for a first crack at it,” Getsy said. “But we’ve got to get him going.”
Teven Jenkins, meanwhile, played 36 snaps at right tackle with some strong moments and a handful of mistakes. Jenkins mixed in at right guard with the second unit for much of Monday’s practice.
“In our system, guards get stressed mentally more than tackles do,” Getsy said. “So he’s someone where that’s the strength of his game. So we want to try that and see what that looks like within what we’re trying to get done.”