Luke Getsy

Luke Getsy's defense of calls vs. Lions says a lot about Justin Fields, Bears' offense

There's enough blame for the Motown Meltdown to go around

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- For three quarters in Detroit, Justin Fields and the Bears' offense were clicking.

However, during the fourth quarter, the plan of attack got conservative and kept the door open for the Lions to make a 12-point comeback with under five minutes to play.

The first eyebrow-raising decision came midway through the fourth quarter after a 29-yard run from Fields got the Bears inside the Lions' 30. Already up by nine, the Bears had a chance to go for the kill shot against the NFC North-leading Lions.

Instead, the Bears called three runs and settled for a short field goal. On third-and-7, Fields handed off to Roschon Johnson, who was stopped after a gain of 2 yards. Head coach Matt Eberflus defended the decision to take the ball out of Fields' hands, pointing to Johnson's run on third-and-medium earlier that the Bears converted.

Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said that many factors played into the decision to run the ball on that critical third-and-7 that saw the Bears stretch their lead to 12 but gave the Lions a chance to come back.

"We're always going to be in the best play mindset," Getsy said Friday at Halas Hall. "When you're in an advantageous position, like we felt like we were in those positions, we're going to go with it. Run, pass, doesn't necessarily always say we have to throw it or we have to run it, whichever makes you feel like you're more aggressive. We called a run on third-and-6 or whatever and got the first down with Roschon earlier in that game. We executed right. We executed at a high level on that one.

"Sometimes you're making those decisions based upon the situation, too. Do you want the clock to run? Are you already in field goal range? Are you worried about a pressure that might be coming? Or whatever it might be, you're playing that chess game with the other side of the field, too. We felt good about all those calls. Do I want to take one or two of them back? Sure I do. I'd love to because now I know how they did, and I know how they defended us for sure."

Eberflus said on Monday that Fields might have had a chance to "disconnect" from the mesh point on that play and keep it. Further film review of that third-and-7 call showed the receivers to the right were either preparing to block for a run to that side or a screen to DJ Moore, signaling it was a designed run-pass-option.

Johnson told NBC Sports Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes the play call was an RPO, with Fields having the choice to pull it and run or toss it out to Moore.

The rookie running back said that the look they got pre-snap pointed to a handoff and that he got tripped up by a body on the ground as he was squeezing through the hole or else he would have converted.

Getsy's play-calling on the Bears' subsequent drive has also been heavily scrutinized.

Up 26-21 with 2:59 remaining, the Bears needed to get two first downs to ice the biggest win of the Eberflus era.

On first down, Fields handed it off to Khalil Herbert for no gain. Getsy called a read-option on second down, and Fields gave it to Herbert for a gain of 1. After the loss, Fields said the Lions' defense was playing them wide that drive to negate his running ability, so he gave it to Herbert.

Getsy agreed with that assessment while acknowledging that with Fields' elite athleticism, the rules for when to give and when to keep might be a little different.

"That’s not an exact science," Getsy said of the give. "There’s no exact science to exactly how you tell that quarterback to make the decision on it. I think there’s plenty of times throughout that game that you would say that if you’re coaching it, you’d say, ‘Why did you keep that?’ But sometimes it is who’s that person and who are you? And you have to feel what you feel, right? And I think from Justin’s standpoint, he made the right decision. We’ve got to execute the rest of the play a lot better the next time, and we will."

On the next play, Fields identified robber coverage at the snap, which took him away from Moore coming across the middle, and threw a deep shot to rookie Tyler Scott. The ball was thrown perfectly, but Scott "misjudged" it, and the pass fell incomplete.

Despite the safety coming down, Fields might have had an opportunity to hit Moore on the crossing route if he had waited a beat.

To Getsy, it's all part of the NFL quarterback development process. It's not just if not one, then two. It can be if not one, it's two, but it can also still be one, depending on what kind of player you have out there and the matchup he is facing.

"I think that’s all part of your growth, and when you’re going through those types of situations, you always want to factor in who people are, that’s always matchups are always kind of a starting point of our week, when you’re putting your plan together," Getsy said of the fateful third-and-9 call. "But the cool part about it was just the way that he processed it, the way he communicated, the way that he talked about why he did what he did and what he saw — that’s all real growth and stuff like that."

The Bears' collapse against the Lions and the subsequent autopsy shows the amount of growth still needed from every part of the offensive operation from Eberflus to Getsy, quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko, Fields, the backs, receivers, and line. The offensive issues at the end of the game in Detroit are a symptom of a larger disease. It's one that has infected everyone and one the Bears are still trying to purge.

Whether or not the Bears want to pull back the curtain on the decisive calls in Detroit, it's clear that errors were made in multiple areas, and it helped fuel a historic collapse.

On Wednesday, Fields said the Bears "showed" who they were during the first 54 minutes in Detroit. That might be who they hope to become. But for now, they are what they showed in the critical moments -- an operation that still can't get out of its own way in the winning moments.

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