When will Justin Fields take over for veteran Andy Dalton?
That has been the key question surrounding the Chicago Bears this entire offseason, and it’s a question that promises to follow them around until Fields finally becomes the guy.
Just ahead of Week 1’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Las Vegas Raiders, NFL insider Adam Schefter discussed the Bears’ current situation at quarterback with ESPN analysts Steve Young and Booger McFarland, among others. Schefter explained why Nagy was being so insistent in keeping Fields on the bench despite deafening calls from fans and analysts to put him in.
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Schefter: Nagy Doesn’t Want to ‘Break’ Fields
“The plan is to guard the big picture and to not break this quarterback before they believe he’s ready,” Schefter began.
“Look — let’s go through all the drafts the last 10, 20, 30 years, and let’s look at all the first-round draft picks that were put into the lineup, especially this day and age where people want results instantaneously, and see the quarterback broken before he has the chance to develop. What about the guys that had the chance to sit on the bench? Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady. A lot of them sat there and waited.”
Sure, there have been numerous cautionary tales with rookie QBs starting too soon — but there have also been myriad success stories, particularly in recent years. Schefter neglected to mention names like Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill and Kyler Murray, who are among a growing list of first-round QBs who started their rookie seasons and went on to benefit from that experience.
The idea that rookie QBs need to wait before taking the reins is also an antiquated one in this league, as GMFB’s Kyle Brandt points out:
We may be seeing Fields start this yet season if a few recent reports from insiders are to be believed, however.
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Multiple NFL Insiders Saying Different Things About When Fields Starts
In an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up” on September 9, Nagy’s close friend and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick echoed Schefter, suggesting Nagy’s logic was to keep Fields on the sidelines until he was certain the 22-year-old QB was 100% ready.
On September 13, FOX’s Jay Glazer offered a different opinion, saying it was his understanding that Nagy and company weren’t going to start Fields until at least Week 4:
“The plan was for him not to be the starter before Week 4,” Glazer said about Fields. “That one I can tell you without a doubt. The Bears were really hoping their defense would come up big, they’d be able to play ball control football and Andy Dalton would be able to manage that team — and Justin Fields could just learn. They did want to take him along a lot more slowly than throwing him in there in Game 1 or Game 2, or something along those lines.”
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN also offered this take on why Nagy chose to play Fields on just a few snaps Week 1 against the L.A. Rams:
It’s clear fans and analysts alike want to see more of Fields, but what’s not clear among these differing narratives is when that will actually happen. Stay tuned, Bears fans. We’re in for an interesting year if anything else.