Back in October, SM reported that Chicago Bears team chairman George McCaskey issued a directive to the coaching staff to start rookie quarterback Justin Fields moving forward. This came in the wake of Fields’ strong performance against the Detroit Lions coupled with head coach Matt Nagy making it clear Andy Dalton would remain the starter once healthy. It was around that point McCaskey made the decision and Nagy reversed course.
Now there is further confirmation of this courtesy of Shaw Media reporter Hub Arkush. The longtime Bears reporter and insider revealed similar details in his own column. That McCaskey pushed for Fields to start between the Lions and Raiders games. A move that Nagy was against. Due in large part to his desire to stick with his original plan of sitting the rookie similar to Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.
“Bears chairman George McCaskey directed the Bears coaching staff to name Justin Fields the permanent starting quarterback prior to the Week 5 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, multiple sources tell Shaw Local’s Hub Arkush.
It’s unclear how the directive was given to the coaching staff, whether there was a conversation in person between McCaskey and Bears head coach Matt Nagy, or if general manager Ryan Pace was directed to give the instructions to Nagy. The move was against the wishes of Nagy, per multiple sources.”
This once again shows how disconnected the head coach was from the organization.
All signs point to him really being the only one that wanted to sit Fields. Rumors persisted for weeks that teammates and even his own assistant coaches wanted to let the kid play. They felt in spite of his inexperience that he gave them the best chance to win. Nagy remained unmoved. Dalton was his guy. So much in fact that he actively prevented Fields from getting any meaningful reps with the first offense in training camp.
A decision that has since come back to haunt him when Dalton got injured in Week 2 against Cincinnati. Fields looked lost against Cleveland a week later and suffered from clear miscommunications with his wide receivers. A byproduct of never having worked with them up to that point. At last, McCaskey had seen enough and made it clear the rookie would start moving forward. He is the future. Either make it work or the organization would find someone who will.
Nagy likely knew he couldn’t get Justin Fields going as is
That has proven true because the coaching routinely shows an inability to adjust the offense to his strengths. Whenever they do, the kid plays well. Yet every time it seems like Nagy falls back into old habits the next week. The loss to Baltimore is a perfect example. After running tons of bootlegs, play action, designed rollouts, and featuring the tight ends in Pittsburgh? The Bears did almost none of that for long stretches against the Ravens.
The first screen wasn’t thrown until the 3rd quarter after Justin Fields had been knocked out with a rib injury. Tight ends were targeted just five times all game. It felt like the same game plan Nagy had employed so many times in the past. Almost always without success. The fact he managed 13 points against the 32nd ranked pass defense in the league and lost to a backup quarterback in Tyler Huntley?
It is hard to blame McCaskey for feeling like he had to intervene.
Nagy has proven time and again he doesn’t have an actual plan for Fields or the offense in general. He is grasping at various possibilities, trying to incorporate facets of others teams. All the while there is no identity to speak of. This is why the Bears constantly struggle with penalties, miscommunications, and discipline. The man had every opportunity to get this right and he blew it.