Coaches tend to offer up nothing but praise for players and Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy didn't stray far from this approach on Monday when talking about the first preseason game.
However, Getsy did point out one flawed play Justin Fields had in Saturday's 19-14 win over Kansas City.
"He vacated too quickly," Getsy said.
The play was the scramble when Fields slid and took a big hit from Juan Thornhill without a penalty flag. Getsy's complaint about the play wasn't Fields being hit but how the Bears QB didn't complete his progression properly.
It's part of the growing process a young quarterback needs to experience.
"He skipped No. 2 in the progression," Getsy said. "He kind of went left/right, and they took away No.1.
"That was a great job by him of getting back. I think he got out of there a little too quick. That was the one play, honestly, that I wish we had back for him."
Other Issues at QB
Fields wasn't alone with mistakes among the QBs.
"The other guys each had one or two that was the same thing—we haven’t done that the last couple weeks out here," Getsy said. "But the flow of the game, it speeds everything up a little bit.
"I love the decision to slide, obviously, but he had a chance to maybe hang in there just a tick longer."
The way Fields fixes this problem is through more playing time. There's no word yet on whether he'll get more than the 18 plays he had against Kansas City when the Bears are at Seattle Thursday, but with Getsy pushing for it then it is a good bet it will happen.
"That's experience," Getsy said. "I mean, he's 23, right? You can only get that by playing. And practices is great, but it's not a game.
"That's why it's important that he gets a few reps each preseason game, just to get that under his belt. And then I think the more he plays this year, the better he's gonna get that feeling. Pocket presence is not an easy thing to teach. But he's got the toughness and the guts to do it. When you're evaluating quarterbacks, that's one of the first things I'm looking for—somebody to have that willingness to stand in there, make your throw with your feet in the ground and get smacked in the jaw. He definitely has that."
The trouble was Fields nearly got smacked in the jaw on his slide because he waited rather late to make it.
After the game, Fields made a joke about how he never gets that call but veterans do when there is a late or unsportsmanlike hit.
"I mean, geez Louise, I have way more to worry about than that," Getsy said. "Hopefully he gets the call, right? I dunno.
"Whether it was or whether it wasn't (a penalty), I love the way he responded after that play. He didn't let the last play affect the next play, which was something that we've been working really hard on from spring."
Fields apparently wasn't as resilient in OTAs.
"Whenever he threw an interception or something this spring, the next play was bad, too," Getsy said. "So that was great to see him, kind of, he didn't have that show up at all this game. So that was good."
Receivers and Backs
Beyond that, Getsy is impressed with the continued progress of Fields' footwork, once a major issue.
"He's going through the process that he should be," Getsy said. "He works his tail off and we work his butt off. You guys see it out there all day long.
"We hit the footwork all day every day. Game reps is what the kid needs. He's attacking every day the right way."
So perhaps he'll get more chances Thursday night.
Beyond Fields, Getsy came away with a better read on running back Trestan Ebner.
It was the rookie from Baylor who caught a short pass and turned it into the first Bears touchdown, ran for 31 yards on six carries, and nearly broke one kick return.
"I just loved the way he finished those runs," Getsy said. "That was more than anything.
"He's got to clean up his reads (on runs); he bounced the one and it paid off, and the next one he was just anticipating the same thing happening and the linebacker beat him to it. If he had kept it nice and tight inside that's where the youth came in, the experience of he could have had two big ones, but I loved the way he finished each run, I really did."
The other area he needs to see Ebner improve is where they want all their backs to improve—as a pass blocker.
"That's where he’s got to grow, and it's not just pass pro but it's the pass game," Getsy said. "It's a challenge; we demand a lot of the running back in protection and in the pass game and he's capable of all those and he's willing to do all those. So that's all good.
"He's just got to get more reps at dealing with those and experiencing those."
Another player Getsy came away feeling more positive about was Tajae Sharpe. That's because Sharpe had put himself in a tough spot and needed a personal talk with Getsy after receivers like Velus Jones Jr., Byron Pringle and N'Keal Harry were injured.
"We had that conversation the other day," Getsy said. "You know, he made a critical error in practice and we were like, 'hey you know this is your chance with these guys being out, this is your opportunity to make some plays.'
"And he took advantage of that. I was impressed that he was able (to). I mean that was a heck of a catch that he made on the sideline (19 yards) to get his feet in and then to make another nice grab going down the field on that, coming out ... from a backed-up situation. So that was awesome. I was really proud of Tajae and the way he stepped up."
It wasn't just Sharpe who Getsy thought responded to opportunity resulting from receiver injuries, as everyone from Dazz Newsome to Dante Pettis to Nsimba Webster seemed to step it up.
"It was good to be able to see everybody operate the way that we did, but I think it’s cool to give all those guys an opportunity in a bunch of different things," Getsy said. "You saw Dante and you saw Dazz and you saw Nsimba, you saw all those guys having opportunities to do a bunch of different things.
"To me that's what the preseason's all about. Give guys opportunities to see if they can help your team."