Few people know Matt Nagy like Louis Riddick.
The ESPN analyst goes back a long ways with the Bears head coach. Both were in Philadelphia with Andy Reid, where Nagy was climbing through the coaching ranks, while Riddick was making moves in the front office. Their relationship has grown over the years. So much so, it’s worth paying extra attention whenever Riddick chimes in on Bears matters. And when it comes to discussing Justin Fields’ future, you better believe I’m listening with extra intent.
In a recent hit on ESPN’s “Get Up” program, Riddick was asked if Fields will start right away. And while the general vibe from Riddick’s response was that Fields shouldn’t start from the get-go, it sounds like it might be a challenge to go in a different direction (bold emphasis mine):
“I think he will take it slow. I think he will be very methodical as far as bringing this young man along. Because he knows his career in Chicago – and quite honestly, how people view him as a head coach, play-caller, and developer of quarterbacks – really depends on it. He will be methodical about it, but it’s inevitable. … He’s going to have to sit on his hands to not throw him in right away. Although, I know he’s trying to wait and play this thing very patiently.”
So, there are various significant takeaways to come away with from Riddick’s snippet.
Firstly, the plan seems to be to slow-play Fields’ development. Riddick’s use of the word methodical carries a ton of weight here. The Bears don’t tend to do methodical when it comes to quarterback development. So perhaps it is a good thing to have all those QB whisperers on staff. Nagy, Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor, and Quarterbacks Coach John DeFilippo should be able to come up with a decent development plan based on what they’ve learned at prior stops.
Moving forward, the plan should be to not rush Fields through to the starting line. Moreover, they should want to make sure he *is* ready to give it a go whenever his time comes. So, secondly, knowing that Fields’ playing time is “inevitable” (another term used by Riddick that carries significance) means Chicago’s offensive coaches should be focusing on preparing their quarterback-of-the-future.
Part of me wonders if this “methodical” plan has anything to do with promises made to Andy Dalton. But that might be beside the point, because the Fields development plan should be independent of what plans are for the other QB1. Nevertheless, the Bears can play both sides if they so choose. They can develop Fields for the inevitable day in which emerges as the true QB1, all while letting Dalton play things out for the time being.
There are plenty of paths to Fields starting in 2021. But for now, the general consensus is that slow and steady will win the race.
For more on what could be in store for Fields, check out the video below: