Matt Nagy has reiterated for months now that the Chicago Bears have a plan at quarterback. It is simple and straightforward. Andy Dalton will going into 2021 as the starter. He’s a veteran with a long track record of success. Justin Fields will be his backup and take the opportunity to learn from the sideline. The idea is to not throw the rookie onto the field before he is ready to play.
This is hardly an unproven approach. Several quarterbacks have found success doing it that way. Patrick Mahomes is the most recent. Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer are others. The head coach saw it work before. He feels this is what is best for Fields in the long run. A lot of people don’t like that. Many because they just want to see their shiny new quarterback play. However, others think the 11th overall pick isn’t a normal rookie.
He is ready to play right now.
The 22-year old logged two seasons at Ohio State, playing in one of the best conferences in college football. He made the playoffs twice and reached the national championship game last season. Fields played and excelled on the biggest of stages. So to say he’s not quite ready for the spotlight of the NFL isn’t entirely true. That is why some think Nagy is lying when he says there is no chance the rookie wins the starting job next month.
Those beliefs seemed to get some reinforcement when the coach and GM Ryan Pace met with the media on Tuesday before the start of training camp. After a long season, Nagy was asked point-blank how he’d react if Fields came out and dominated the preseason. While he danced around whether it would have an effect on his decision, the man didn’t hold back his reaction to the idea.
What if Justin Fields goes out and dominates in preseason games?
Matt Nagy: "That'd be awesome… I want Justin Fields to be electric."
— Jason Lieser (@JasonLieser) July 27, 2021
#Bears HC Matt Nagy: "I want Justin Fields to be electric. That’s what we all want. For us, we’re worried about today."
— Sean Hammond (@sean_hammond) July 27, 2021
Matt Nagy isn’t going to hand Fields anything
He’s made it crystal clear that there will be no preferential treatment. Yes, Fields is the future for Chicago but if he wants to be the present? He’ll have to show beyond a doubt that he is a superior option to Dalton. That will require an excellent training camp and then strong performances in the preseason. He’d probably also need Dalton to falter somewhat along the way.
So yeah. A lot of work to do. The good news is Fields is apparently off to a strong start. Matt Nagy revealed that the rookie looked calm and sharp when handling the offense in and out of the huddle during early camp practices. A surefire sign he did his homework during the downtime since the end of minicamps in June. The coaching staff is more than satisfied with what he’s done thus far.
The big challenge is still to come.
Can he string together strong practices against a still good Bears defense? That was often a problem Mitch Trubisky ran into. After that, it will be about the preseason where well-coached teams like Miami and Buffalo will be waiting. That is a lot to navigate for a young QB. If he does, then Nagy probably won’t have to think too hard about playing him right away.