The true believers feel it is either the offensive line or the coaching staff that we should blame for Fields still having issues in the passing game.
They would be right to a degree.
He has been sacked 95 times in his career. Fields spent the majority of last season running for his life because of poor protection. Justin also held onto the ball too long. He has been sacked 70 times when given more than two seconds in the pocket.
The offensive line has been banged up since the moment Fields took over as the starting quarterback. He has taken enough shots where you cannot blame him for being a bit jittery once the pocket starts to collapse.
At the same point, holding onto the ball too darn long is one of the reasons he has taken a pounding. His hesitancy to throw the ball with anticipation is a major reason he is taking a beating.
Then again, the offensive line has helped contribute to him playing in a lot of second/third and long.
After first and 10, the most pass attempts Fields has had is in second/third and 10-plus.
A case can be made that head coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy have coached him to be more conservative. Under Matt Nagy, Fields was willing to throw into tight windows. Under this regime, he is just not pulling the trigger like he did in his rookie year.
The play-calling on Sunday was bad. Getsy would call a couple of plays that would string together some nice gains and then self-destruct drives with odd calls and formations.
Eberflus’ HITS principle places a focus on not turning the ball over. It makes you think that the coaching staff has done an overcorrection by hammering home that Fields should hit his layup passes, instead of trying to drive it down the field.
Also, Getsy called just one designed run for Fields. This is a guy who tore up the league after last year’s bye week when Getsy was having him scramble. This season is indeed about Fields throwing from the pocket more to limit injury exposure. Justin did get hurt last year on a couple of dialed-up runs.
At the same time, moving the pocket more is where Fields feels most comfortable throwing the ball.
One of his best throws came off a play design where the pocket moved. Also, it can help the offensive line.
Then again, the idea is if Fields needs to move in the pocket, he needs to keep his eyes upfield and still look to throw.
He did not do a lot of that against the Packers. It led to some missed opportunities.