The Chicago Bears will trot out rookie quarterback Justin Fields to start the team’s Week 3 preseason finale at home against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, and the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft will play about two quarters.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the news of Fields’ start, which was relayed by Bears head coach Matt Nagy, who added that Andy Dalton is still on track to be the starter for the regular season:
The unwavering faith Chicago’s coaching staff has in Dalton isn’t completely misplaced, yet Bears fans and pretty much anyone outside the organization who likes quality football will be clamoring for Fields until he finally gets the QB1 job.
For a Bears offense that has a suspect offensive line — and won’t get much in the way of explosive downfield throws or pocket escaping excellence from Dalton — Fields seems like the logical candidate to start. Sure, rookie mistakes are to be expected, and the circumstances aren’t ideal, yet Fields learning on the job seems better than Dalton’s ceiling.
Oh well. Looks like Chicago is going to forge ahead with the Red Rifle over the Ohio State product for now.
Justin Fields won’t do enough to beat out Andy Dalton in preseason Week 3
Nagy has his mind made up, except he’s under the perpetual illusion that this is in any way, shape or form analogous to the situation he had in Kansas City, where the Chiefs sat Patrick Mahomes for almost a full season in favor of Alex Smith.
Every QB situation is unique, but this is the epitome of an apples-to-oranges comparison. Smith had led the Chiefs to multiple playoff appearances. Kansas City had a great organization with stability at head coach in Andy Reid, along with a tremendous staff. Smith played at an MVP-caliber level that year.
Dalton has never come close to sniffing an MVP. The Bears are in constant disarray. They’ve never gotten the QB position correct, and stubbornly stuck it out with Mitchell Trubisky even when it was obvious that he wasn’t going to work out.
Heck, Chicago would’ve blown it again if Fields didn’t slide in the draft. That was an incredible stroke of good fortune. In spite of all that, and how much the modern QB prospect has changed, the Bears are still stuck in 2012. Or they’re just talking themselves into this supposed Smith/Mahomes scenario they allegedly have on their hands.
So no matter how good Fields looks on Saturday, it seems like Nagy’s mind is made up.
Why Chicago Bears can’t afford to sit Justin Fields more than a couple games in 2021
- Justin Fields stats (2020, Ohio State): 158-of-225 passing (70.2%), 2,100 yards, 22 touchdowns, 6 interceptions; 81 carries, 383 yards, 5 touchdowns
Look, the trepidation about facing Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams’ fearsome defense in Week 1 is understandable.
The thing is, Fields could run for his life and escape the inevitable havoc wreaked by Donald and Co. It eludes the imagination as to how Dalton is expected to evade that pass rush.
It sounds like it’ll be mighty easy for Jalen Ramsey and the Rams secondary to jump short routes as Dalton hopelessly tries to get the ball out of his hands as fast as possible, which is liable to lead to multiple turnovers. Be honest: How surprised would you be to see the game play out that way?
“Not at all.” That’s the correct answer. The Cincinnati Bengals loom in Week 2. They’re not exactly a powerhouse. Great opponent for Fields to test the waters against. The soft defenses of the Detroit Lions and Las Vegas Raiders await to kick off October. It’s pretty well set up for Fields — if Nagy lets him loose.
Fields stretches the field more with his superior arm strength. He proved at Ohio State, many times, that he can make full-field reads. His rushing ability, compared to that of Dalton’s, couldn’t be more of a night-and-day Exhibit A of extremes.
Sometimes you can be too close to a problem to realize how easy the solution is.
Anyone in the Bears organization should just burst into Nagy’s office and yell, “OCCAM’S RAZOR!” or “THE LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS!” or anything to drive the message home that Dalton and Fields aren’t close talent-wise — or in “likely ability to transcend dysfunction” until Nagy caves.
If that doesn’t work, I don’t know…fire Nagy?