Fields entered the game against Cincinnati late in the second quarter after Dalton appeared to injure himself while running out of bounds. The 11th overall pick out of Ohio State was shaky in relief, but he also showed a knack for making plays the team has lacked at the quarterback position for quite some time.
Fields finished the game going 6-13 for 60 yards and an interception, and it looks like he may be getting more opportunities to start in the near future. Bears head coach Matt Nagy was non-committal when asked whether Dalton would start next week — even if healthy. “I’m not going to get into that. I’m not going to get into that,” Nagy told reporters after the game.
Dalton is set to get an MRI on September 20, and while Nagy noted he didn’t think the veteran signal-caller tore his ACL, it’s clear Fields is ready to be the leader of this team — particularly when considering his comments after the game.
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Fields Reveals Challenge Put Forth to Offensive Players
Fields has been the Bears’ scout team quarterback since the start of the regular season, which requires that he and other reserves face the team’s first-team defense in order to better prepare for their weekly opponents. After Chicago’s Week 1 loss to the L.A. Rams, Fields challenged his fellow players on the scout team offense to up their level of play.
“I challenged the scout offense this past week” Fields revealed after the Bears’ win over the Bengals. “I was like: ‘Yo, we didn’t do a good job last week giving our defense looks.’ I tried to go out there this past week and I tried to scorch our defense and really just play ball with them. Just tried to get the practice receivers together, tell them that we need to do better to get our defense better.”
That sounds exactly what a great leader would say — and do.
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Nagy: ‘Justin is Further Along Than We Thought’
The 22-year-old QB was quick to note that he wasn’t pleased with his performance in Chicago’s Week 2 win. “I didn’t play well, in my eyes,” Fields said. “Of course I played well enough to get the win … but I think there’s a lot of room for me to improve.”
When asked if he’s ready to make his first NFL start, Fields answered in the affirmative, and noted it would help to get some quality reps this week. “I’ll be getting reps with the first team offense, so I think I’ll be even more prepared,” he added.
For his part, Nagy seemed to suggest he thinks Fields may be ready, too.
Like I’ve said with Justin, he’s probably further along than we thought at this point right now. If that’s the case, we feel good about it. He’s worked really, really hard to get to this point. Even today, in that moment as a rookie, coming on in in that situation – super calm, super cool. Even after the interception, when he dropped in the zero look and made the play, he was very cool coming out there and trying to make a play. He’s done that his whole career. That doesn’t fluster him. That’s a strength that he has. We’ll see where everything goes and where it’s at … If (it’s) Justin, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and we feel good with him.
Sounds like the Justin Fields era has officially begun in the Windy City.