Chicago Bears offensive assistants spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time this offseason after the second day of organized team activities at Halas Hall.
Here are four things we heard as the new coaches continue to get to know their players.
1. Quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko has been impressed with the work Justin Fields is doing on his own.
Janocko got to know Fields a little bit through the 2021 predraft process on Zoom, when Janocko was in his seventh season with the Minnesota Vikings and first as quarterbacks coach.
Janocko said his impressions then about Fields’ demeanor, work ethic and winning mentality have been confirmed through the first few months of working with him. Janocko said he can tell Fields has put in the preparation and thinks he is ahead of pace in his learning as the Bears build a new offense.
“There’s nobody that’s going to outwork him that’s in this building — coach, player — he’s going to be the hardest worker,” Janocko said. “That’s something that, coming in here, I had hoped for. It was definitely something that was enforced from the minute he and I first got together.
“The fact he can come in and spit out a play call means that last night he was sitting at home probably in (front of) the mirror talking that play out. Different offenses have different ways of communicating things, and the fact he’s picked up on some of our language quickly and that he can spit it right back at you without stuttering, without having to think about it or process, that it all just clicks in his head. That’s a mental aspect that takes time to develop and that takes effort away from the building.”
In their limited work on the field, Janocko said Fields’ speed has obviously stood out, but so has his ability to apply coaching in practices.
“The way he feels in the pocket and how he’s adapted to the training,” Janocko said. “He’s such a natural athlete that you can say it to him once or you can demonstrate it … (and) he can just take to that training and apply it to a drill and then take it to a team period.”
Janocko addressed several areas of Fields’ on-field work:
- Ball-security drills: “That’s Coach Flus. That comes from the top down of the organization.”
- Adjusting his footwork: “Everything is about timing and rhythm in the NFL. If you can get the ball out on time and you can listen to what your feet are telling you, then that helps you progress, helps you get through reads, helps you feel a defense and tells you when you’re late and need to move on.”
- His throwing motion: “We’re always just trying to be efficient and compact. … Everything starts with our feet and building it from the ground up. And then from there just being compact and allowing him to have the best release possible from the ground up, from the waist up, with his base and all that. We’re always working on different things like that.”
2. Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said they’ve put a lot on rookie Velus Jones’ plate off the bat.
Jones, the Bears’ third-round pick out of Tennessee, already has impressed coaches with his maturity and hunger to get better. Tolbert and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy noted the whiteboard Jones carries around to take notes and draw plays.
And Jones, the speedster who also is in the mix as a returner, apparently is going to need that focus for all the Bears are asking of him.
“We’ve thrown him into the fire pretty quick, put him at two positions immediately,” Tolbert said. “Get him to learn it now because we want him to learn the whole concept, but specifically, a couple of positions to get him going. The more he can do, the more obviously he’ll have a chance to play. So we’re going to throw it all at him and see what he soaks in and hopefully he’ll get out there and make some plays for us.”
3. David Montgomery is studying film of players with similar styles to see where he can make improvements.
Running backs coach David Walker said the Bears have been looking around the league for players for Montgomery to study as he looks to build on a third season in which he had 225 carries for 849 yards and seven touchdowns and 42 catches for 301 yards in 13 games.
His studies have included Indianapolis Colts All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor. Walker acknowledged Montgomery doesn’t have the 40-yard dash speed of Taylor, who averaged 106.5 rushing years per game last season, but Walker sees some similarities in their styles they can draw from.
“David has the opportunity to be as good as anybody in this league,” Walker said. “He has the skill set. He has the mindset. He’s going to get his opportunities. Quickness, check. Vision, check. Power, check. He’s got all those things.
“(We) find guys that are similar that have success and have your type of skill set and (ask) why are they successful and are there things that they do that we can incorporate into our game.”
4. Janocko and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy worked together more than a decade ago when Janocko still was playing.
Janocko was a third-string quarterback at Pittsburgh in 2010, when Getsy was a graduate assistant. Janocko tried to find a way to contribute to the team, so he tailed Getsy.
Janocko is excited to continue his support of Getsy with the Bears.
“He’s a heck of a leader,” Janocko said. “He’s really smart. He’s a good person, somebody that you’re drawn to. Some people draw to Luke because he cares about the people around him and he has a whole bunch of knowledge. He’s been to a bunch of different places around great people, so that’s who you want to surround yourself with.”
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