Week 1 began with Rams Coach Sean McVay declaring it would be naive to not prepare to see the Bears deploy first-round quarterback Justin Fields at some point during the season opener.
Later in the week, a report teased the implementation of a Fields package for Week 1.
And had the game not been a late-game blowout, we probably would’ve seen even more than tbe handful of snaps we did get from QB1-of-the-future:
Maybe the most intriguing part of Justin Fields playing Sunday was Matt Nagy's admission he would have taken more snaps were the game closer.
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) September 13, 2021
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio expands on Patrick Finley’s tweet with a more direct quote:
“We had the plan and we stuck to our plan,” Nagy said. “We knew where and when we were going to use him and we stuck to that. And so, we’ll see where that goes and how we do it. But I think we all understand that for us, strategically, we’ll see where we go with that — without giving anything away.”
Nagy admitted he would’ve given Fields more playing time had the Bears been in a closer game late, and it’s kind of a hard thing to square away.
The idea that Fields is good enough to play more in a close game, but isn’t ready to just be the starter just doesn’t really line up for me. Why is there a willingness to play Fields in high-leverage situations late in the game, but not in the same situations throughout the contest? And also, wasn’t this all supposed to be about development? Is there no value in, say, running a two-minute drill even if the game is already out of reach?
Or is this line of thinking about protecting Fields physically? Those hits can pile up at the pro level in ways they don’t in the college game. Could this be about the kinds of plays Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy can run in a closer game? That probably makes more sense. After all, the play resulting in Fields’ first NFL touchdown likely isn’t in Dalton’s wheelhouse.
Don’t get me wrong. It feels good that Nagy is willing to piece together a package that allows the Bears to use some of Fields’ skills. If Chicago wasn’t going to start him out of the gate, the least the offensive brain trust can do is find a way to get him some live game reps. However, there is no satisfaction knowing that Fields could play late – but will only do so if it is close – knowing that this defense might not be able to keep games close enough to make Fields a factor in the first place.