Some Matt Nagy quotes just started making the rounds, and since I’m not sure they are actually as spicy as the initial reaction, I wanted to share and offer some context.
On his podcast, NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth — whom I imagine you know well from Sunday Night Football — was prodding Nagy about the plan to develop Justin Fields behind Andy Dalton, and then asked Nagy the million dollar question.
“Is there a possible scenario Justin Fields plays on opening night?”
Nagy’s reply is as follows:
“No. Andy is our starter. Again, I can’t predict anything. You know how it goes. There are so many things that can happen between today and that Week 1, but Andy is our starter and Justin is our No. 2 and we’re going to stick with this plan.
You always hope nothing happens to Andy as far as injuries or anything like that, and that’s why I can’t say 100 percent ….”
Maybe that hits you as a crystal clear set of statements, but I tend to think there’s actually quite a bit to discuss.
On the one hand, the “no” Nagy issues immediately upon answering the question sounds firm, and even his concession that “so many things can happen” is later clarified to be apparently about injuries. In other words, what he seems to be *saying* right now is that Andy Dalton is going to be the Bears starter on Week 1, unless he’s hurt. What he’s *saying* is that there is no “winning the job” for Justin Fields. Those are his words, pretty plainly stated.
… but you know the but, right?
What Nagy is plainly saying on June 15th and what we actually think will happen months later aren’t necessarily the same thing. Nagy may have meant only “injuries” when he said he can’t predict what’s going to happen, but I don’t think we have to pretend that performance is not at all a factor. There are probably scenarios to do with either player, in isolation (or, more likely, collectively) that can change minds and can be explained away later. Also, just listening to Nagy talk – yes, I heard his words, but it just felt like it had a “as I sit here today … ” vibe as he was speaking. Take that for what it’s worth.
So ultimately, I come back to this: There are 89 sleeps until Bears-Rams kicks off. The plan, for now, is to have Andy Dalton as QB1 and Justin Fields as QB2 when festivities get underway at So-Fi Stadium in Week 1.
That’s the plan, even if it doesn’t feel set in stone (and, hey, that’s par for the course for these Bears).
Remember, this is the same organization that said Mitchell Trubisky was their starter when he was the only QB under contract. What else were they supposed to say? This is the same coach who insisted the quarterback competition between Trubisky and Foles was open because, again, what else was Nagy supposed to say? And this is the same coaching staff who installed Trubisky as the starter, then pulled him in the guts of the game in Week 3 because he couldn’t get anything clicking against the Falcons, then benched him in favor of Foles. So pardon me if I’m not running to lock in Andy Dalton as QB1 in Week 1 on June 15. In the end, we’ll know when Fields is ready. And I doubt we’re going to learn that during OTAs in June.
If it sounds as if Collinsworth is extra amped to interview Nagy, it’s with good reason. This is as honest and candid as we’ve gotten from the Bears head coach in quite some time. So I would encourage you to give it a listen when you can.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.