Bears passing stats through two weeks almost read like a horror story

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields is hit by Green Bay Packers linebacker Preston Smith after throwing a pass during the first half, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Green Bay, Wis.

Heading into this season, we all knew the Bears’ passing game was going to be a work in progress.

Nobody expected Justin Fields to complete 30-35 passes for 300-350 yards on a weekly basis.

But Fields’ numbers are so ghastly that they almost read like a horror story: 15-for-28, 191 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

In two games!

Now, yes, one was in a rainstorm and the other came on the road against the Packers, who have one of the league’s best defenses.

But still -- teams can’t win consistently without racking up some yards through the air.

“It is a concern,” coach Matt Eberflus said Monday, one day after the Bears fell 27-10 at Green Bay. “We want to get better there ... there’s no question.”

The numbers almost have to get better. They certainly can’t get much worse.

Top receiver Darnell Mooney has 2 catches for 4 yards. Top tight end Cole Kmet has zero receptions (he dropped his only target Sunday).

The Bears’ leading receivers are RB David Montgomery (5 catches for 38 yards) and Equanimeous St. Brown (3-57).

Fields ranks 32nd in passing yards, 33rd in pass attempts and 31st in completions.

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa threw for more yards than Fields in 15 minutes on Sunday, piling up 199 and throwing 4 TDs in the fourth quarter as he led Miami back to a wild 42-38 win over the Ravens. Of course, it helps when you’re throwing to deadly WRs like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

Eberflus, not surprisingly, insisted the Bears have playmakers who can -- and will -- step up.

“Let’s feed the guys that have skill, that can take a short throw and ... go downtown,” said Eberflus, whose squad hosts the Texans on Sunday. “And we have a good deep-ball thrower. We should utilize that too. ...

“(The coaches) are gonna work tirelessly to get that done this week.”

It starts by getting guys touches early. Throw a simple five-and-out. A curl route. Anything to get momentum headed in the right direction.

(I’d even start a game with a play-action bomb. Even if it doesn’t hit, at least you’re putting the safeties on alert).

As for Fields, it’s important to remember he’s only in his second year and has no difference-making wideouts. Progression will come in baby steps and there will be plenty of stumbles along the way.

I do have two concerns, however:

•Fields isn’t that accurate. We saw that time and time again in training camp on simple routes with no defenders in sight.

Sunday, he overthrew Mooney on a deep pass early in the fourth quarter. It’s the kind of throw that mediocre QBs make. Sometimes they hit it, sometimes they don’t.

The special ones put that ball on the numbers every time.

•Lack of overall field awareness. Now, oftentimes, guys will grow into this. The game slows down and you know before the ball’s even snapped who figures to get open based on what the defense is showing.

Also, not every play is going to develop the way it’s drawn up. A perfect example came on the Bears’ opening drive of the second half Sunday when Equanimeous St. Brown blew past Packers CB Eric Stokes and found himself wide open down the sideline. After looking left, Fields spotted St. Brown, who had his right hand raised to the heavens. Fields didn’t pull the trigger, however, and dumped the ball to David Montgomery for a 7-yard gain.

St. Brown told us Monday that he was supposed to run a curl route, but he beat Stokes so badly that he just kept going.

“When we throw a hand up (in the air), we call it ‘mailbox,’” St. Brown said. “So if you’re not gonna run your route and you’re gonna run the ‘go’ route, throw your hand up so the quarterback knows.”

Instead of a possible touchdown, the Bears had to punt.

At some point in the coming weeks, the Bears believe this offense will become a dangerous unit.

“(With) every team that has a new offense, it’s going to take some time to get all the little details correct,” St. Brown said. “It’s not easy to do it on a consistent basis. The defense gets paid to stop you as well.

“So, I think any time a team has a new coach, new offense, it’s going to take some time to get a grip on it.”