On third-and-9 from the Bears’ 22 early in the third quarter Sunday night in Green Bay, receiver Equanimeous St. Brown quickly beat the jam of Packers cornerback Eric Stokes and took off down the field.
He was wide open — as in 78-yard touchdown-like open — and quarterback Justin Fields didn’t see him or let the ball loose in his direction.
At first glance, it was a bad miss by Fields during what became the fourth consecutive three-and-out for the Bears offense.
But there was more to it.
“I was supposed to run a curl route, but I beat the DB so bad that I just threw my hand up and turned it into a go route,” St. Brown said Monday at Halas Hall.
This is where this week’s five takeaways column begins.
Context matters on plays
St. Brown’s decision to change his route as the play unfolded was a good one. It’s something the Bears have discussed. They have a name for it.
“When we throw a hand up, we call it ‘mailbox,’” St. Brown said. “So if you’re not going to run your route and you’re going to run the go route, throw your hand up so the quarterback knows you’re going to run a go route and not the actual route you were going to run.”
It’s an on-the-fly adjustment that happens in seconds that takes time to get better at.
“Definitely,” St. Brown said. “I think that might’ve been the first situation we’ve had all camp, OTAs, where that happened. We talked about that. But I think that’s the first time that happened in an actual situation, practice or game. So I think moving forward, things like that we’ll connect on.”
St. Brown’s explanation excuses Fields’ miss, but only so much.
It was the Bears’ first third down of the second half, and he had good protection from his offensive line. The same film also showed receiver Dante Pettis coming open on a curl to his left, where Fields’ eyes went first. Cornerback Rasul Douglas was potentially in Fields’ line of vision, but he still moved to cover receiver Darnell Mooney in the left flat.