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Looking for the Right Mix for Justin Fields

Chicago Bears coaches are trying to pull together a game plan capable of benefiting Justin Fields by making the rookie play faster

Now comes the tricky part for Justin Fields and the Bears coaching staff.

The collaboration on game-planning between Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and coach Matt Nagy this week takes on more significance than ever.

It could be their biggest challenge of the year.

With Justin Fields making his first start Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, the coaching staff must come up with a game plan simple enough for a first-year quarterback trying to become the first rookie in franchise history to win his starting debut on the road.  But it can't be a game plan too transparent, for the sake of keeping the Browns defense honest.

Essentially, they've got to dumb down the offense. They just don't want to call it this but it's essentially what any rookie quarterback making his first start needs so he can play quickly instead of suffering brain freeze.

"Well, the easy answer is to say, we'll just shrink it down," Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said of the game plan. "He's also proven over time that he can handle a pretty good amount.

"So if you go to a point where, well, because you have a new starter at this position, he's a rookie, let's shrink it down. If you go too small you don't have enough bullets in your belt to win the game. So I think we're looking for the right amount. And that doesn't always mean shrink."

Coach Matt Nagy said Monday and on Sunday after the game that they took some of the motion and various formations out to keep it more simple for the rookie when he was put in during the game against Cincinnati.

"Obviously, as you mentioned, the first regular season start makes it a little bit different," Lazor said at Halas Hall Wednesday. "But he's played in big games before.

"I think and you all (media) have seen him enough to know I think you would probably bet he's probably going to handle it just fine."

The issue is as much how the coaches will handle it as Fields. It's a subjective situation, and as Lazor pointed out, they are experienced at this.

"We went through some quarterback change here the last year, too," Lazor said. "Some of it is the same and you try from all of the cumulative reps of spring and training camp and preseason games to take that information in of what you think the best fits that player."

The Mitchell Trubisky-to-Nick Foles-to-Trubisky switch was different. Although Foles was experienced with this type of offense, he was new the Bears. Still, he was a Super Bowl MVP and didn't need things dumbed down.

In fact, during games there were times last year where he changed up too much for some players to keep track. The 24-10 loss in Los Angeles to the Rams was one example of this.

"Part of it is what do you do well, part of it is what hurts the (other) team what their weaknesses are that you want to attack and part of it is the matchups," Lazor said. "Now you add in another level of changing that position, who's starting at that position.

"So it does add more layers and we do have decisions to make, but that's our job."

Lazor called it all a big balancing act, but the coaches aren't the only one s being asked to do something like this.

Fields has to learn the right balance between running with the ball and throwing.

"So that's going to be his development when you're a talented runner at quarterback," Lazor said. "And that will always be part of his game, is just finding that balance.

"I think it's probably fair to well for him to this point in his career, how he's handled it through college. And he'll keep figuring that out."

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