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Justin Fields Stands Up to Pressure

One former NFL quarterback had to admire Justin Fields for standing up to incredible interior defensive pressure in Sunday's Bears loss.

When Matt Eberflus spoke positively about Justin Fields' effort on Sunday, it said a good deal about his passing and maybe even more about his guts.

Fields stood in and delivered at times or got out of the pocket at times against some unbelievable pressure up the middle by rushers working against Sam Mustipher and sometimes Lucas Patrick.

In several cases it was a stunt by defensive linemen and in others a blitz that led to the interior pressure in the A-gap.

"He did a nice job of riding the pocket a couple of times, staying in there and delivering the ball, for sure," Eberflus said. "We talked about those plays. That's just more experience. More experience on the job and he's going to get better at it."

The part Eberflus meant was Fields knowing where to go quickly to beat the inside pressure, or getting out of the pocket quicker when things break down.

"I think it's just pocket presence as he gets more experience," Eberflus said.

It might actually be more a matter of letting a pocket actually form than pocket awareness.

The passing pocket rarely formed properly due to the heavy Giants pressure from inside. New York came in with three sacks for three games and made twice as many as that on Sunday alone.

Pro Football Focus' independent analysis of the pass blocking gave Sam Mustipher six pressures allowed, Patrick three, Braxton Jones two and Larry Borom one. They also gave three pressures allowed to running back Khalil Herbert, who was pass blocking in a game when he replaced injured David Montgomery as starter.

It's not easy to stand in and throw once cave-ins occur in pass blocking like those on Sunday. 

Even worse, it can make a quarterback jumpy, causing him to abandon perfectly good blocking situations because he thinks he sees the pocket collapsing. This happened on at least one play caught on Sunday's game film when Fields ran out of the pocket to the right and directly into trouble.

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Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, speaking on WSCR-AM 670 in Chicago, had analyzed the game film.

"Let's get into this because teams are picking on the center and right guard," Dilfer told WSCR, referring to Mustipher and Patrick.

Patrick also had some problems when moving over to left guard, which is understandable considering he hadn't practiced the position at all this year before being moved there after Whitehair's knee injury.

"It's nearly impossile when you have inside pressure all day long," Dilfer told the Parkins and Spiegel show on WSCR-AM 670. "I don't care who you are. This same type of pressure melted Tom Brady, it's melted Aaron Rodgers, it's melted Peyton Manning.

"I said it every week when I was on ESPN for nine years: The kryptonite of any quarterback is immediate A-gap pressure in your face."

Dilfer thought Fields did a reasonable job handling that pressure, everything considered.

"When that pocket gets pushed back or there's free runners inside, your No. 1 job is to protect the ball. If you step up and try to throw into that you're risking ball security."

Dilfer summed up the Bears situation pretty succinctly at the start of his spot.

"I feel way better about Jusint Fields," Dilfer said. "I think I feel worse about the Bears."

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