Matt Nagy came into the 2021 season with a plan. It was a simple one at its core, but one that would generate an incredible amount of controversy. He would have Andy Dalton start at quarterback while Justin Fields sat behind him and learned. Once upon a time, this would’ve been acceptable. Maybe 20 years ago. The NFL of today just isn’t like that. Rookies taken in the 1st round almost always play right away. Both because they tend to be more ready to play than years past and also because of league contract structure.
Rookie quarterbacks only have four years of cheap money on their deals. After that, presuming they’re good, then the money is going to get expensive really fast. Teams have to find out fast if the QB can play. If he can, that gives them a window to spend more freely building up the roster in order to support him. Several teams have taken advantage of this in recent years like Seattle and Kansas City. Nagy though isn’t swayed by such things. He believes Fields can benefit from sitting for now, improving his grasp of the offense and the NFL speed from the safety of the sidelines.
Plenty of people aren’t buying that.
They think the head coach is way too married to the idea of what happened with Patrick Mahomes back in 2017. He isn’t willing to accept the possibility that Fields is ready to play now despite plenty of evidence to suggest this is the case. There are already rumblings that some at Halas Hall believe it. Even Nagy’s own offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. If people were looking for further confirmation of how outnumbered he is in this, just look at the quarterback power rankings former GM Mike Tannenbaum did for ESPN.
He sent a loud and clear message. Not only did he rank Dalton as the second-worst QB in the league right now, he actually ranked Fields two spots ahead of him. This despite the rookie having played just five snaps to this point.
“C’mon, Matt Nagy, let’s go! Chicago Bears rookie Justin Fields is the better QB over Andy Dalton and should be playing. (I ranked Fields two spots ahead of Dalton this week.) We saw his physical ability with his TD run and his skill set as a thrower is dramatically better, too. It’s disappointing that he’s not playing more.”
Tannenbaum was the GM of the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. He’s seen his fair share of quarterback conundrums in that time. For him to put Fields ahead of Dalton like that says a lot. Yet another sign that Nagy doesn’t have many supporters regarding this strategy.
Matt Nagy desperately needs a positive Week 2 from Dalton
The calls for Fields to start are already deafening. Now those calls have been joined by ones for his job. People are tired of Nagy. They don’t think he has a firm grasp of reality when it comes to offensive football. His offense still can’t score enough points against good teams. His quarterbacks always seem to do the wrong thing way too often. Now he finally has a talent with genuine superstar potential and his decision is to keep it locked away.
That hasn’t made him a lot of friends. Especially after Dalton struggled in his debut. Matt Nagy needs a reprieve in the worst way. This in the form of the veteran having a nice bounceback effort against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. If that happens, the people may quiet down. For a time, at least. If he doesn’t, then the Bears head coach may not find any remaining allies both inside and outside that building.
It seems like Fields is only a matter of time.
Most believe he will play at some point. The only way he doesn’t is if Dalton starts to perform much better. That doesn’t seem likely at this rate. Excelling in a new offense is difficult enough. Throw in a strong schedule on top of it? Dalton has too many things working against him.