Justin Fields, Bears' offense showing signs of growth

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Coming off a season-high 33 points in a road upset of the New England Patriots, the Chicago Bears faced some skeptics heading into Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

What would the Bears be able to do against an elite defense that entered the game ranked second in points per game at 14.8?

The answer had two layers. The Bears scored 29 points, which were the most Dallas has given up all season, but it came in a losing effort, 49-29.

Second-year quarterback Justin Fields and the Bears’ offense remain a huge work in progress, but the key is progress, and that has been evident the past two weeks.

Fields’ 72.5 QBR was the seventh-best in the league for Week 8 heading into Monday's game, and his passer rating of 120 was the highest of his career, although his numbers weren’t gaudy. The 23-year-old quarterback completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and he picked up another 60 yards with his legs, including a 3-yard rushing touchdown.

“I think everyone is getting more and more comfortable as we game plan and put plays together,” Fields said. “[Offensive coordinator] Luke [Getsy] and our offensive coaches have done a great job figuring out what we do good as an offense, what each player does individually well.”

Getsy continued to draw up deep passing plays for Fields, who isn’t throwing to the most established group of receivers in the league. But further proof Fields’ connection with Darnell Mooney is coming together was exhibited on a 36-yard dart to the wide receiver that set up Khalil Herbert’s 12-yard touchdown to cut Dallas’ lead to 28-23 with 9:48 to play in the third quarter.

The talent gap between the Bears and Cowboys was too much to overcome as Dallas answered with running back Tony Pollard’s second of three touchdowns, followed by Dallas linebacker Micah Parsons returning a David Montgomery fumble for a touchdown on the following drive to wrestle back a 19-point lead.

The Bears rushed for 240 yards against the Cowboys, the third straight game in which they topped 200 rushing yards, and the sixth in which Fields -- an essential part of the league’s No. 1 rushing offense -- reached 40 yards on the ground.

“I think the guys are starting to really gel," Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. "You can see that we implemented some things that are really enhancing the skill levels of our players. I think it’s starting to open up some things for us, and it’s positive for sure.”

Fields has accounted for 472 yards and five touchdowns since a Thursday night loss to Washington in Week 6. His passer rating in those weeks (103.4) has increased considerably from where it was his first six games of the season (72.7). So has his completion percentage (68% from 55%) and rushing output (71 yards per game from 47).

Fields is showing progress, but one major concern remains. He’s the NFL’s most-sacked (31) quarterback and was hit five times by the Cowboys, including four sacks. He paid a brief visit to the injury tent in the second quarter and said he reinjured his hip.

“He’s got to stop taking hits,” Mooney said. “I love him, he’s a tough guy. But I don’t need him to be a tough guy anymore. Just get out of bounds or something, because we’re gonna need him.”