Comparing your developing quarterback to Aaron Rodgers generally is a non-starter in the NFL, especially with the Bears. Coaches are wired to avoid it for obvious reasons. It’s an unfair comparison, and all it can do is set the bar too high.
So it was worth noting that Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy dared to bring up Rodgers — unprompted, even — when asked about Justin Fields’ second-half performance against the 49ers that was a clear step up from a dreadful first half.
“I was impressed with the way he communicated in that game, really impressed,” said Getsy, who was Rodgers’ position coach the previous three seasons. “You talk about Aaron — one of the coolest things when you coach Aaron is you get to hear him say exactly what happened on every play. The detail is unbelievable. It’s impeccable. And Justin had a lot of those cool conversations with us in the game [against the 49ers]so that was fun to be a part of.”
I fall for it every time. The offensive coordinator/head coach/quarterback whisperer extolling the virtues of a developing quarterback that all the elite QBs have — athleticism, leadership, instinct, attention to detail, command of the huddle, the ability to learn and a savant-like recall. And then it all falls apart because he just simply isn’t as accurate as Rodgers or Tom Brady. Or he can’t think on his feet at the moment. Or he isn’t in a very good offense. There’s always something.
There’s no telling if Getsy will be any different, but if early impressions are worth anything, it seems like Fields is in good hands. Getsy’s patient, methodical common-sense approach seems well-suited for an offense still in training wheels and a quarterback with a long way to go.
Players seem to have a genuine respect for Getsy, often crediting him unprompted when asked about the direction of the offense — like his persistence with the running game against the 49ers. And Fields seems to notice and appreciate the difference from his herky-jerky rookie season under Matt Nagy.
“He’s been great with everything,” Fields said. “Footwork and timing, playing on time and the little details of playing quarterback — like different movements in the pocket. He knows what drills to work, what I need to work on. He’s been great. I love having him here.”
The early results were modest yet positive. Fields completed 8 of 17 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for an 85.7 passer rating against the 49ers. But he was better at the end than in the beginning — a 2.8 passer rating in the first half, a 145.8 rating in the second half. For what it’s worth, that’s the opposite of last season against the 49ers, when Fields had a 118.6 rating in the first half and a 47.6 rating in the second half in a 33-22 loss at Soldier Field.
“I was really impressed by how he handled every situation,” Getsy said. “Like the way we were able to talk about what happened when you’re backed up and then he throws that interception [in the first half]. That whole time, that dude was stone-cold. He was ready to go. There was no woe-is-me at all in that young man. That’s what has been so cool about him.”
While many are looking for a Fields breakthrough — that watershed moment of “arrival” — Getty is looking at step-by-step progress.
“Just want to keep getting him to grow, and we’ll keep getting better every day,” Getsy said. “He’s a young dude, and I have to remember that, too. I have to have patience, too.”
Patience is one thing, but the Packers are another. Every start for a Bears quarterback at Lambeau Field is a big one. If Fields takes one step backward, it’s part of the process. If he takes two steps forward, it could be a giant leap for the Bears.