Andy Dalton has already been named the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears in 2021, with both head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace publicly endorsing the veteran as the team’s starter, but Nagy finally admitted there is a chance rookie Justin Fields could get the call at some point this season.
Nagy appeared on on The Rich Eisen Show this week, and the host did not hold back when discussing the reality Nagy faces in Chicago. While a capable quarterback, the former Cincinnati Bengals starter has an 0-4 record in the postseason (with one touchdown and six picks), and Eisen pointed out that Dalton may not be the best option for a team looking to capitalize on an aging defense by winning now.
“Chicago Bears fans do not sign up for Bengals results,” Eisen correctly surmised. “That’s a fact.” Nagy did not disagree, although he reiterated that the plan is to still start Dalton. At least, that’s what he said at first.
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Nagy Stated Team’s Plans for Fields — At Least Right Now
So what’s the plan for Fields? “That’s probably the million dollar question for so many people. So many of our fans across the country, our city of Chicago, players, coaches, everybody,” Nagy said, admitting he understands why people are clamoring for the 22-year-old to start.
“From an outsider’s perspective, it’s real simple: ‘This kid, how do you not play him? He’s so talented. He’s gotta play Week 1. He’s gotta be the starter Week 1. How do you not do that?’ Well, there’s a lot of things that go into that.,” Nagy said, before referencing his time with Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs when they drafted Patrick Mahomes to sit behind veteran Alex Smith:
I was fortunate enough to be in a similar — I’m not saying the same, but a similar — situation with Alex Smith and Patrick (Mahomes). In the end, it ended up working for both of them, and that’s at least where we’re gonna start. We have a guy in Andy Dalton that we have a lot of belief in. He’s had a nine-year career, and he’s seen a lot of different defenses. He’s a true pro, and he’s come in here to be able to help us out as much as he can. … When you bring Justin into the mix, there’s so many different things he has to learn that go into being an NFL quarterback. … We’ve gotta make sure as a staff that we take it step by step and don’t rush it. If we rush it, and we take this thing too fast and he’s not ready, it’s gonna be bad for the Chicago Bears and it’s gonna be bad for Justin Fields.
Then, Nagy acknowledged reality a bit more.
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Nagy Admits It’s Possible Fields Could Start
When Eisen asked him what Mahomes learned from watching Smith and how that could apply to how Fields learns from Dalton and Foles, Nagy listed a few things. “No. 1, understanding what the tempo is like in practice. He got to see: What was Alex’s routine every day? How did he start practice with his warm ups, his throws. How did he communicate with players in between practice?” Nagy began.
“I think the greatest thing that Patrick did,” Nagy added, “Is he came in Day 1, and he came in and he listened. He was an observer. And he listened to what Alex said. He watched him. He took notes.”
But what if Fields is straight up better than Dalton? What if Dalton were to get injured? “I don’t know if you’re going to have the luxury that you’re referring to,” Eisen said in reference to resting Fields. Nagy acknowledged this was a “very, very real” possibility.
“We will know — if Justin gives us a better chance to win than Andy does, then that’s something that we and myself as a head coach who makes the decision, will have to make that choice,” Nagy said. “We also have to be real. I have to be prepared for what you just brought up. Whoever that quarterback is — if they’re better for the Bears and that’s Justin, then we’ll do that. Whatever week it is, we will make sure that it’s best scenario for Justin and best scenario for the Bears.”
Let’s pause and rewind that for a second. “If they’re better for the Bears and that’s Justin, then we’ll do that.” If Fields is better, they’re going to have to, because too many people — players and fans alike — will be watching.