Bears quarterback Justin Fields displayed plenty of skill as a runner in his second season, accumulating 1,143 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
But Fields was less effective as a passer. He completed 60.4 percent of his throws for 2,242 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 picks as the Bears finished last in passing attempts and yards. Fields was also sacked a league-leading 55 times and had a league-leading 16 fumbles.
So, the Bears set out to improve their passing game in the offseason, picking up a talented receiver in D.J. Moore in the trade down to No. 9 overall with the Panthers. And the team signed tight end Robert Tonyan in free agency.
But it’s the improvement Fields has made that should really put Chicago on the right track, with head coach Matt Eberflus noting on Friday that Fields has looked stronger in his rhythm and timing.
“Obviously, the priority is the passing game,” Eberflus said in his Friday press conference. “We ran the ball very well. But we all know that we’ve got to improve in the passing game. Part of that is the rhythm and timing. That’s the footwork with Justin.
“He’s been really working on that, really good — in terms of the quick pass, drop-back pass, movement passes. And he’s really made some big strides in that area, coming so far on his own, and now coming into the Phase II, that first week.”
Eberflus added that he’s “really optimistic” about the passing game coming along in part because of the pieces the club has acquired.
“Looking forward to getting them together,” Eberflus said. “Right now, we’re doing routes on air and stuff in Phase II, so it’s pretty cool to see those guys throw and catch together. But we’ll see when we start playing against defenses and all that. But, you just add athletes, guys that can catch the ball well, that can create mismatch problems with [Chase] Claypool and Bobby and D.J. and all those guys that we have.
“It’s only going to be better.”