The Chicago Bears have sworn up and down for months now. Justin Fields is the future. This is obvious. However, his time is not yet at hand. Head coach Matt Nagy wants to take things slow with the rookie. He believes Fields would ultimately benefit more from sitting this season and learning from an able veteran like Andy Dalton. This way when his time does come, he’ll be better prepared to excel.

A lot of people aren’t buying it though. They don’t believe for a second that Nagy will keep Fields on the bench for too long. Some even went so far as to say the rookie will replace Dalton by halftime of opening night in Los Angeles. While that seems a bit excessive as predictions go, it isn’t entirely incorrect. According to Ian Rapoport, the Bears have a game plan in place for the Rams. Given the right situation? It does include the possibility of getting their prized rookie on the field.

This shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

Rams head coach Sean McVay said this past week his team would be foolish not to prepare for Fields. Not because he will take over for Dalton but because of his special brand of playmaking skills. Specifically his outstanding athleticism. Having a 6’3 quarterback who can run with 4.41 speed isn’t normal. It offers a team lots of options. Particularly in short-yardage and red zone situations.

If Nagy gets a sense that Dalton is struggling to convert in those scenarios, then throwing Fields into the mix makes sense. The Bears head coach tried something similar with Mitch Trubisky while Nick Foles was starting last season. It didn’t work at the time as Trubisky got injured. Yet it was still proof the team had designs on such an idea. The hope would be Fields executes it better.

Justin Fields has done everything asked of him

Before practices began, Nagy had just one directive of the young quarterback. Work hard and do everything in his power to make it tough on the coaching staff to keep him on the bench. Nobody can deny the rookie accomplished that goal. He showed steady progress throughout training camp and capped it with an impressive preseason. One where he got better with each game.

There were even rumblings that Nagy came really close to going back on his word to Dalton. In the end, he decided to hold steady. The plan remains unchanged. However, it is fair to wonder if the leash on the 33-year old veteran might be shorter than originally planned because of how Justin Fields played last month. Everything hinges on one thing.

How Dalton performs.

If he looks like the player he was towards the end of last season in Dallas? He might do alright. If he looks closer to his 2019 version in Cincinnati? Nobody would be shocked if Fields saw action by the start of October. It comes down to how much pressure Nagy feels. External pressure is one thing. It could get really different if the Bears start losing and the locker room gets frustrated.

Erik Lambert
Educated to be a writer at the prestigious Columbia College in Chicago, Erik has spent the past 10 years covering the Bears.