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Adjusting to Justin Fields, the Starter

Now the Bears can begin the process of actually figuring out how to use Justin Fields and how to play alongside of him.

The Bears have won with Justin Fields at quarterback against Cincinnati and last week they won for the first time because Justin Fields was playing quarterback. 

Now Fields will be quarterback for good and it might not appear much has changed other than he has been officially knighted Sir Fields, quarterback of Nagyland. 

It has to change, though.

Now, starting against the Las Vegas Raiders, they have to begin to actually learn what it means to have Justin Fields as their quarterback. 

In other words, the Bears offense must understand how to play with a passer who might take off running for 25 yards if no one is open, or who might dart around and then pick someone out who gets open. 

Now they have to learn Justin Fields

What was the point of learning this before when as soon as Andy Dalton returned, they'd be back to a different style of passer and player? Now, Bears players on offense can officially begin this process.

Tight end Cole Kmet found out about it last week and sees how it can work. He had run a route, Fields scrambled to his right and suddenly Kmet managed to work free of coverage deep, only to slip and Fields' long pass fell to the ground. 

In the future, perhaps Kmet is cognizant of this possibility faster or it's Allen Robinson or Darnell Mooney and the play gets made as receivers grow accustomed to playing to the whistle with their mobile passer.

"Everyone's got their own style and way they kind of go about things, so you've just gotta be able to adapt to that and kinda try to figure out guys quickly," Kmet said. "Whether that's getting more time on-task in practice or after practice, things like that."

It's going to lead to more work at practice. Those scramble drills need to get emphasized more, then repeated over and over.

"It's just more reps, more time in practice, so things like that and the rhythm that we have with one another will just continue to grow over the season and from there on," Kmet said. "Excited for him."

The blockers need to realize Fields makes it different for them when he gets out of the pocket. They already ran into problems with an adjustment to the way he escapes the pocket when they played Cleveland and Myles Garrett was able to take advantage of  Fields escaping deeper and to the side rather than by stepping up, the way Dalton would do.

It's not necessarily more work for linemen but working differently.

"I would definitely say it's harder for receivers than the offensive line to adjust to that, the timing of throws and stuff like that," center Sam Mustipher said. "For the offensive line, we have to do our jobs and block. 

"No matter who is back there we have to block and sustain blocks especially against a (Raiders) defensive front that we are playing this weekend."

But there is a difference.

"Yeah, like I said you have to sustain blocks a little longer," Mustipher said. "He's able to extend plays with his legs. That's the main difference."

It's not just players who adjust

There's someone else who needs to adjust: the coaches. They need to keep running Fields more from under center and moving him around like last week, but it goes beyond this.

When Mitchell Trubisky became a Bears quarterback, he ran around and scared defenses. Then he stopped doing it as they tried to make a pocket passer of him and then he almost became stubborn about avoiding runs while looking for someone to come open. 

The offensive coaching staff has changed and Matt Nagy has admitted he likes the idea of the deodorizer for failed plays that Fields provides by scrambling. 

They also have to remember Fields' legs can be planned weapons without overusing this.

"I think, I would imagine, I'm not going to predict, there will always be some QB run in Justin's game to some degree," offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. "Some weeks it might be two plays, some weeks it might be eight. Whatever it is, designed QB runs will be part of the game and then there will always be some unscripted, for whatever reason it was time to go part of his game. 

"It could be designed rollouts where he has options or it could be that the pocket broke down."

Teams will try to take this away. Cleveland had a good idea how with its dynamic defensive ends, and from a few years of trying to contain Lamar Jackson.

Lazor and Nagy can help here, as well.

"When you watch the Raiders, you watch the teams they've played and what approach they've taken with quarterbacks who can run," Lazor said. "You can go back to their coordinator's history, and I've coached against him before. What approach has he taken with quarterbacks that can run?" 

The Raiders gave up 86 rushing yards to Jackson.

"Some defenses are going to try to hem him in by either blitzing off the edge or keeping the defensive ends high up the field," Lazor said of Fields. "Others are going to use secondary players or linebackers who align deep off the ball when the ends chase, then to wrap over the top for him. There are gonna be a bunch of different plans."

Fields, meanwhile, has the biggest adjustment. He has to learn more about NFL defenses and passing to receivers from within the pocket because quarterbacks who rely too much on their legs get damaged or fail all together. 

"Really, he brings a different element to the table than Andy does," Mustipher said. "And Andy has the strengths that Justin is going to start accumulating as he has more times and reps. 

"Really it's all about building chemistry."

Mobility is a volatile mixture and the Bears have to harness it without blowing up their offense.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven