Olin Kreutz Has Interesting Theory On Why Bears Won’t Start Justin Fields

matt nagy
Aug 21, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy fist bumps quarterback Justin Fields (1) after a play against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Soldier Field. The Buffalo Bills won 41-15. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The debate on why the Chicago Bears won’t start Justin Fields has raged for literal weeks now. Ever since head coach Matt Nagy declared Andy Dalton would be the starter. There would be no competition in training camp or the preseason. So many fans and media can’t understand this. How in the world can he think Dalton is a better option than Fields? It is obvious the latter is more talented. He had a good preseason. Stop being stubborn and put him out there. Nagy remains unmoved. So why? Olin Kreutz may have an idea.

The six-time Pro Bowler got together with former teammate Jason McKie on their No Name Football podcast to discuss the Bears. Kreutz understands the frustration surrounding Fields, but he had a surprisingly deep bit of insight into what Nagy and his coaching staff might be thinking with this approach. It isn’t about which QB is more talented. It’s about which QB sees the game in the way the coaches themselves do.

“My first thoughts are that I don’t think Fields was ever given a chance to win the job. I think they knew that they were going to go with Andy Dalton into the season. I think Coach Nagy sees the game from the pocket. By that I mean he was a pocket quarterback and he likes what Andy Dalton gives him by reading the field, getting the ball out fast.”

This is something people forget.

Nagy himself was a quarterback. He was never known for his mobility. So his success hinged on learning to operate from the pocket. Those lessons were reinforced during his time under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City. Kreutz added further details into this way of thinking. Fields might be able to escape pressure with his legs, but they want to see him do it from the pocket. See him recognize what the defenses are doing.

“When I watch the film and I analyze Fields? Things that scare me is he doesn’t organize his protection yet. Doesn’t seem to know where the blitzes are coming from. I know a lot of people are saying he beat that blitz, he learned from getting hit. When I really stare at that film and look at his eyes? I don’t know if he saw the guy. I think he just threw it hot.

Credit to him. He felt the pressure. But I would like to see one guy point at the guy who’s coming. Give the receiver a little signal, then the ball comes out. Then I know you saw it and you beat it. So I think in practice, that is what they’re seeing. Probably seeing a guy who doesn’t know how to organize his protection yet. Who doesn’t know where the blitzes are coming from yet.

And that’s a huge problem in the scheme they run. In the Kansas City Chiefs/Andy Reid scheme of keeping their quarterback in the pocket and making him read the whole field. When you look at the way their team (the Bears) has been built? By team, I mean coaching staff and the guys around him. All the guys coaching him? See the game from the pocket.”

What he’s saying is true.

The Reid-style offense has origins in the West Coast system developed by the great Bill Walsh. It places a heavy demand on the quarterback to understand how to operate from the pocket, know where all his receivers are going to be, and how to set his protection. Young quarterbacks will inevitably struggle grasping something that complex. Hence why Nagy would want Fields to sit and learn.

Olin Kreutz could easily have pointed out other QBs who did

People talk about Patrick Mahomes as the big example of this approach. He sat out all but one game in 2017 and was a star by 2018. However, there are other examples. Joe Montana, the man who made the West Coast offense famous, only started one game as a rookie. Steve Young, his eventual successor, joined the 49ers in 1987. He didn’t start a game until mid-November that year and didn’t become the actual starter until 1991. Donovan McNabb, Reid’s first great QB success? He didn’t start until the 10th game of his rookie year in 1999.

So when it comes to this particular offense? Sitting the young quarterback is hardly uncommon. Olin Kreutz was smart to make this clear. While Fields might be good enough to start in other systems, he’s not good enough to start in this one. He will be. Just not yet. This is why Nagy has stressed to everybody that the team is taking the long view with the rookie. They don’t want to throw him out there before he’s ready.

Dalton wouldn’t have the same problems.

He has played in this type of offense before. From 2011 to 2015 when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals and then again with the Dallas Cowboys last season. One could easily argue he played his best football in this system. He went 50-26-1 those first five seasons with 18,008 yards, 124 touchdowns, and 73 interceptions. The Bengals made the playoffs all five seasons. This is a big part of why the Bears trust him so much. Olin Kreutz recognizes that.

Educated to be a writer at the prestigious Columbia College in Chicago, Erik has spent the past 10 years covering the Bears.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments