Bears not necessarily scheming for Fields to break record

December 21, 2022 GMT
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Chicago Bears' Justin Fields runs during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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Chicago Bears' Justin Fields runs during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy compared Justin Fields’ push for the NFL’s single-season quarterback rushing record to Golden State Warriors big man Kevon Looney nearing his first career triple-double last week.

He saw players lobbying coach Steve Kerr to keep Looney on the floor. Instead, Looney was removed one assist shy of the mark with 1:20 left in the Warriors’ loss at Philadelphia.

“I saw all those guys running to Coach Kerr like, ‘C’mon, dude, he just needs (one assist for) a triple-double,’ and they took him out of the game,” Getsy said Wednesday. “We won’t take him out of the game.”

Getsy is well aware that Fields has a chance to break Lamar Jackson’s quarterback rushing record of 1,206 yards in his 2019 MVP season for Baltimore. Fields has 1,000 yards and needs 207 over the final three weeks, an average of 69 per game. His average thus far: 77 yards per game.

Getsy said if Fields gets it, great. The Bears won’t sit him at the end of the year if he’s close. But he also insisted, as coach Matt Eberflus did earlier in the week, that Chicago won’t necessarily be scheming to get him the record.

“We won’t sacrifice winning the game and usually him being a part of that is part of what we do anyway,” he said. “So I don’t think that’s going to be something we’re going to have to think about.”

Fields has been turning heads with one spectacular play after another since the Bears changed course and started designing more runs for him following a slow start to his second year.

The former Ohio State star is the only NFL quarterback with three touchdown runs of 50 yards or more in a single season. He’s averaging a league-leading 7 yards per carry and ranks seventh in rushing among all players.

Fields joined Michael Vick and Jackson as the only quarterbacks to run for 1,000 in a season during last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He also broke Bobby Douglass’ previous franchise rushing record for a QB of 968 yards in a 14-game season in 1972.

“It really just happens in a matter of a second, like a split second, where my first initial thought is I’m trying to protect myself,” Fields said. “I’m not trying to take any big hits. If I see a little crease or something like that, I might try to hit that crease for extra yards or try to break one tackle. But my first thought when running is just protecting myself.”

Fields never ran like this in college.

Over one season at Georgia and two spectacular years at Ohio State, he had two 100-yard games and never ran for more than 104. His highest total for a season was 484 in 2019 for the Buckeyes.

Fields put up huge passing numbers at Ohio State. He was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in each of his two seasons, during which he threw for 5,373 yards, 63 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

He was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019, when he threw for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns while running for 10 more scores after being granted a waiver that allowed him to play immediately after his transfer. Fields was MVP of the Big Ten championship that year against Wisconsin before the Buckeyes lost to Clemson in the national semifinals.

In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he threw for 2,100 yards and 22 TDs while leading Ohio State to another conference title and an appearance in the national championship game.

In Chicago, he’s been running by necessity and design, with the Bears lacking playmakers and the pass protection not where it needs to be. They started calling more runs for the quarterback after he struggled early in the season, and he has emerged as one of the league’s most exciting players —and now, a potential record holder.

“We don’t really talk about it too much and he doesn’t really talk about it,” tight end Cole Kmet said. “I don’t think that’s necessarily on his mind. But obviously, when you achieve something like that, it’s pretty special. That’s pretty cool stuff, obviously history in the making.”

NOTES: RG Teven Jenkins (neck), WR Chase Claypool (knee) and LG Cody Whitehair (knee) did not practice on Wednesday. Jenkins was carted off the field in last week’s game, and Claypool did not play.


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