How To Defend Justin Fields

September 17th, 2023

Bears QB Justin Fields.

There is no other way to put it: As a quarterback, Bears signal-caller Justin Fields is a beast of a runner.

Fields last year averaged 7.1 yards a carry and finished with 1,143 yards. Not only is Fields quick, he’s big, 6-3, 230.

As a passer, Fields ain’t no Kirk Cousins. And the Bears don’t have Justin Jefferson (though they do have Bucs killer D.J. Moore). Fields last year averaged a touchdown pass a game but had 11 picks. Not a great ratio.

So is containing Fields to the inside the way to play him, not allowing him to get around the edges? Easier said than done, Bucs outside linebacker Anthony Nelson told Joe last week.

“Simple in theory, harder in execution,” Nelson told Joe. “He’s a dynamic player, with his arm and his legs.

“It’s a challenge we will have up front as a defensive line. We’re excited about it but it is something we’re going to be thinking about.

“He’s a big dude.”

The thing that makes Fields scary is he has a gun. Fields can really launch passes.

As Joe has written, Joe would put speedy linebacker Devin White on Fields as a spy.

Despite Fields being more of a runaround quarterback than a passer, the Bears last year actually averaged more points per game than Tampa Bay. The Bears averaged 19.2 points a game. The Bucs? Try 18.4.

With rains expected in the first half today, this game could turn into a defensive slugfest at The Licht House.

13 Responses to “How To Defend Justin Fields”

  1. unbelievable Says:

    Devin White spying the QB and rushing is way better than him dropping back in coverage.

    That would still leave 6 – 7 guys to drop back if we rush Devin + 3 or 4 lineman / OLBs

  2. adam from ny Says:

    he really can launch passes…

    gotta be careful on the roll out that looks like a run – then boom, he lauches the big dooky pass down field…

    it’s one of the best things i’ve seen in his repertoire

  3. garro Says:

    I am sure Bowles has a sound plan for Fields. Whether it is blitzes or spys. More likely a combination of the two. I would prefer spy and make him beat you with his suspect arm. Cannon or not. Three more INTs this week would turn some folks heads.

    Best would be to get home with our front four with multiple sacks!

    Go Bucs

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    Yes Field is ‘scary’, but this is now his 3rd year in the NFL & his record as a starting QB is now 5-21 (having 2 different HCs & OCs to date probably hasn’t helped his development). He’s obviously a very mobile QB, but he’s improving as a passer & his 5.3% career TD percentage is better than Baker’s career average of 4.5% or Jameis’ career average of 4.9% (Brady’s career average was 5.4% BTW).

    Chicago lost their last 10 games last year for 2 reasons: (1) their defense sucked (gave up 300 points in those 10 games … 30 PPG average); and (2) their offense couldn’t compensate (scored 200 points … 20 PPG). But that 10-game stretch was mostly against winning teams & it was a tough schedule (they finished the season with 4 games after a late BYE week … against Eagles, Bills, Lions & Vikings, 4 teams with a 49-18 combined record).

    Looks to me like the key to beating Chicago is to wear them out with your running game then beat them with the pass. Teams who beat them simply outran them (even though the Bears are primarily a running team), got ahead & dared the Bears to catch them with their passing attack (they couldn’t).

    Eagles game last year was a classic example (Eagles won 25-20). Eagles attack was very balanced & ‘efficient’ … they ran it 33 times for 112 yds (3.4 YPC) with 3 TDs & passed it 37 times (22 complete) for 315 yds (14.3 YPR) but 0 TDs (2 INTs). The Bears attack went too heavy on the run though … Bears ran it 30 times for 157 yds (5.2 YPC) with 1 TD & passed it 22 times (14 complete) for 152 yds (10.9 YPR) & 2 TDs (0 INTs). And oh ya, Fields got sacked 6 times in that game. If I was the Bucs’ coaches, I’d attempt to do what the Eagles’ did that game … balanced attack (46% run – 54% pass) and play great defense. Wow, sounds like deja vu of our last game (48% run – 52% pass).

  5. Leighroy Says:

    Rain you say? Perhaps the grounds crew took the day off after the USF-Bama game yesterday to aid in the slowing down of Fields

  6. orlbucfan Says:

    Thanks for your usual excellent analysis, DR. This game will be decided by our D and ST, especially if the weather gets in the action. Don’t take any team for granted, Bucs!

  7. Brandon Says:

    To put things in perspective for last season, the Bears averaged more points per game and Fields had a higher QB Rating than Brady… yes. Brady was that bad at #18 in the league, BEHIND Fields.

  8. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Maybe Jill Tryon can make a play, doubtful but I guess anything is possible.

  9. Duane Says:

    Justin Fields is a great running quarterback, and a mediocre if not poor passing quarterback (career passer rating of 79.2, which is actually slightly better than he did in last week’s opener). So playing the probabilities, the Bucs should focus first and foremost on containing Fields’ running, and force him to beat you with his arm. Not that that is impossible to beat you with his arm, but it’s not very likely.

    Given Devin White’s sideline to sideline quickness and ability to tackle and his size being similar to Fields’, that seems like a very good game plan to have him spy Fields, whichever way he runs.

    But if that’s not working out well for the Bucs D, then it will be up to Coach Bowles to come up with an adjustment to counter Fields, just as he did last week against a team much better than the Bears.

  10. Destinjohnny Says:

    Rush 2/3 and have them fill lanes
    Spy him with 54 and 45
    Double Moore and it’s a wrap
    The guy can’t process.
    He has an electric accurate arm and can run
    But he has no feel for the game.

  11. HC Grover Says:

    Do not let him get outside.

  12. Fred McNeil Says:

    Smells like takeaways. Mmmm.

  13. PewterStiffArm Says:

    That still amazes me that the NFL and the Glasers agree to have a college football game before a scheduled NFL game. I always wonder if the NCAA could have away games for USF during Buc home games. It wouldn’t be hard and the field would be in better condition. Injuries are much likely on a field that has been torn up the day before. Bermuda grass is very tricky on such a short turnaround. Hurry up and build your stadium on campus.