After a headache-inducing week, the Chicago Bears finally made their intentions for Sunday at quarterback clear. Andy Dalton was downgraded from questionable to doubtful with his bone bruise. Justin Fields will officially make his second start of the season. No doubt everybody hopes this one goes far better than what happened in Cleveland. It should since the Detroit Lions aren’t nearly as good as the Browns.
All of this despite the best efforts of Matt Nagy. The Bears head coach was coy all week about who the starting quarterback would be. Most assumed it was him trying to keep some sort of competitive advantage. Keeping the Lions guessing until the last moment. According to a source, that was only part of the reasoning. In truth, Nagy was holding out hope until the last second that he wouldn’t have to play the rookie.
#Bears injury update:
We have downgraded QB Andy Dalton (knee) to Doubtful for Sunday’s game. QB Justin Fields will start vs. the Lions.
— Chicago Bears (@BearsPR) October 2, 2021
The belief is this was driven by two factors.
Lack of confidence that Fields is ready but also massive internal pressure. This game is absolutely critical from Nagy’s point of view. If he not only loses but also has the young quarterback play poorly again? The Bears would be 1-3 with the toughest stretch of their schedule at hand (Raiders, Packers, Buccaneers) and two games showcasing the coach’s inability to help Fields perform as many feel he should.
Early in the week, Nagy was hopeful that Dalton might be able to give it a go. If the knee wasn’t too bad, the veteran would’ve started. Even not at 100%. However, it became apparent as the week progressed that he was too hobbled. Hence the status downgrade. Also, remember how the coach suggested Nick Foles was a possibility as well? That wasn’t just an offhand comment. Nagy considered it. He was eventually convinced that wouldn’t be a good idea.
Matt Nagy scrambles for answers as the season (and his job) slip away
Everything about this week says the same. The head coach is desperate for a win. His job security was already questionable coming into 2021. Now his team has lost in blowout fashion to two opponents considered Super Bowl contenders. Not only that but his offense is ranked worst in the NFL. This isn’t exactly the “progress” George McCaskey was hoping for when he decided to keep Nagy for another year.
The debacle in Cleveland seems to have spooked him. Not only is he reluctant to give Fields another go but he even held a meeting with all the offensive players and asked them for opinions on what changes they’d like to see with the scheme. This is not the sign of a head coach who is in full control of his situation. Matt Nagy is searching for anything that improves his odds to win on Sunday.
Now he’s forced to face reality.
Whether he believes Fields is ready or not, the kid is who he must go with. It falls on him to fix whatever the problem was last week and give the rookie an actual chance to function on offense. If he can’t accomplish that against an 0-3 team with a below-average defense? That will seal his fate.