What Eberflus wants to see from Fields, offense in preseason finale


LAKE FOREST – Several teams might elect to sit their starters in their preseason finale. The Bears don't have that luxury.

Head coach Matt Eberflus announced Tuesday that the Bears' starters will play most of the first half Saturday in Cleveland against the Browns. Eberflus said that select veterans will get fewer snaps, but for the most part, he wants to see his starters get substantial work.

The Bears' offense is undoubtedly in need of more live reps before kicking off the season on Sept. 11 against the San Francisco 49ers. To this point, Justin Fields and the first-team offense have played just 27 preseason snaps and scored just three points. There is work to be done, and Eberflus has a list of things he'd like to see from his offense Saturday against the Browns.

"Yeah, I think it's a lot of things," Eberflus said Tuesday. "You know, it's establishing your identity, establishing your style of play, the effort we give, the execution we give, situational football, albeit third down, if we get a two-minute drive, how we operate in the gold zone. All of those things that come into play that are good football. Again, we want to play a good operation, clean operation and we want to be aggressive in our style and aggressive in our approach. So that's what we'll be looking for."

The only argument for not playing the starters in Cleveland is the risk of injury. That's a factor every time you tee it up.

But with the Bears still searching for answers on the offensive line and a general overall flow, Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy can't afford to have Fields and the starters roll into Week 1 with such limited reps and so many questions.

That was even more apparent Tuesday at practice when Fields and the offense put together one of their most disjointed practices in a long time.

Fields was late on a few throws and had two off-target passes tipped and picked off by Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon, respectively.

"I would just say I'll just reiterate, just the style, the style of what we're looking for, the way we finish plays, the way we run the ball, the way we operate just in terms of first and second down and also third down," Eberflus said of what's important for the offense Saturday. "We have to improve there from last game. And then two-minute. Hopefully we'll be able to get a two-minute drive in there and we'll be able to operate that because we've certainly worked on it a lot. So, we want to be able to see that hopefully."

With the 49ers just two-and-a-half weeks away, Fields and the offense are running out of time to get things right in time for the start of the regular season.

Saturday in Cleveland will give us our best gauge yet as to where Fields and the offense are in terms of mastering Getsy's offense.

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