It finally happened: Matt Nagy named Justin Fields the Chicago Bears’ starting quarterback. No, it didn’t go down the way anyone would’ve wanted. No one roots for injuries. Or at least they shouldn’t. But here we are.
And now, we need discuss what the Bears head coach and new QB1 talked about in their Wednesday press availability, including how the decision came to be.
Maybe this was less of a decision and more of a reaction to Dalton being unavailable due to a knee injury that will keep him out on a “week-to-week” basis. Nevertheless, the words Nagy said today in announcing Fields as the starter are important:
Justin’s gonna be our starter and his prep starts right now. Get out there and have a good week of practice and see where that goes. I know he’s looking forward to it. Andy’s been great. He’s been extremely supportive. This is part of the business, and so now, it’s a great opportunity for Justin and for all of us as a staff to take this thing and see where he goes with it.
Not to be lost in the afterglow of hearing that Fields will start is that (1) Dalton is unavailable this week with his designation being week-to-week and (2) Nick Foles will serve as Fields’ backup.
On the one hand, it is nice having a Super Bowl MVP hanging out in the QB2 role. Foles has ample experience mentoring, tutoring, and guiding younger quarterbacks. Ideally, Foles can impart whatever worthwhile wisdom that exists between his ears onto Fields. But on the other hand, there was a moment in which Foles was sounding like someone with one foot already out the door. And with that being said, part of me is unsure how to feel about that guy being a sounding board for a developing young QB. Here’s hoping the good outweighs the bad.
Nagy also made mention of the plan being Dalton resumes QB1 responsibilities when he returns to full strength. Be that as it may, it will take a convincing argument to sit the rookie when Dalton is healthy if Fields is the quarterback this organization talks him up as being.
So, What’s That Game Plan Look Like?
I don’t think Nagy was being out of line when he was citing scheme as to why he wouldn’t announce a starting QB on Monday. Simply put, creating a game-plan for a healthy rookie with Fields’ potential and piecing together one for a veteran quarterback who left his most recent game with a knee injury is like giving me a recipe that calls for chicken breast when all I have is chicken thighs. Sure, it’s all chicken. And I can work with it. But it’s a different process when cooking the different parts of the bird.
The good news is that the Bears have been preparing for this moment:
“Since we drafted him, you start understanding big picture of where you are with him and things he does well. … We were able to really get a feel of things we like and don’t like with him in training camp, and then in the preseason. So, now we get together as a staff and we just talk through thee things we think he does well for us. You’ve gotta put everything into play and be able to give him and our offense the best opportunity possible.”
However, the bad news is that the brain-trust at Halas Hall didn’t maximize the opportunities to get a feel for what Fields likes and does best because he received a minimal number of first-team reps.
But hey, Fields is willingly acknowledging how his move into the starting lineup figures to help.
“It’s definitely going to help me more than last week, just getting reps with the (first-team) offense instead of just working with the scout offense,” Fields said. “It’s definitely going to have me more prepared this week.”
There will be times, especially in the early going, when Fields and the first-teamers don’t immediately click. Repetitions matter when it comes to building bonds and connections with pass-catchers. I hope that the lack of first-team reps this summer won’t come back and bite the Bears too badly, knowing darn well that there is a good chance they will.
The Decision, But From Fields’ Perspective
When asked about how Justin Fields reacted to the news, Matt Nagy described his quarterback as “stoic.” Nagy would also go on to point out Fields’ calm demeanor and mannerisms, which he feels is a strength that he loves his QB having.
But how did Fields respond to the news? In his own words: “It was pretty much even keel. I think I had a good idea that I would quite possibly start; I wasn’t really surprised by it. Just kind of focused, trying to prepare for Sunday.”
What makes that quote pop is in an anecdote Fields offered up while answering another question:
“I used to not be this way,” Fields said of his cooler-than-a-cucumber demeanor. “I’ve definitely learned from past experiences and past first starts. I still remember my first start in high school being nervous as can be. But being more this way, being stoic and being even keeled, just keeps my mind calm and allows me to think more.”
That’s a deep cut. I can appreciate anecdotes of self-awareness and growth.
For more from Fields and Nagy, check out the videos below: