How do you foresee this situation unfolding in the coming weeks?
ECD - I, personally, foresee Justin Fields starting on week three and never letting go of the job until his days in Chicago are over.
However, I also have an incredibly bad feeling that Matt Nagy will do all he can to stymie the transition. He legitimately seems hell-bent on keeping the rookie on the bench, despite the sheer amount of upside that rookie brings to the table at QB. I get Matt Nagy being a coach of principles. I really do. It’s also a business decision he should have embraced from the moment Justin Fields — his hand picked QB mind you — had their name announced during the 2021 NFL Draft.
This feeling could easily go away once the coming weekend passes and Justin Fields gives Matt Nagy the warm fuzzies on his status as the starter. Fields’s teammates sure seem upbeat on the rookie taking over as the starter at QB. Truly, this is a situation Matt Nagy can’t screw up any further. Otherwise, there will be another coach in Chicago to take his QB, and his place as the head coach. Guaranteed.
Josh - With Nagy making horrible decisions that put Fields in a position to fail, installing a game plan for different players, and then benching Fields for Dalton as soon as Dalton is recovered. Unless Nagy gets Fields injured, which is maybe 20-30%?
Lester - Fields is going to wow us, but he’s also going to struggle, and that’s fine, because I don’t get the sense that Fields will crumble if he sees adversity. He’s a supremely confident and hard working prospect that has everything inside him to be an honest to goodness franchise quarterback.
Rob Z - I don’t trust Nagy not to lose the forest for the trees.
A competent, top-tier coach understands there’s no going back now. Fields will play, flash, and make mistakes. Barring a barrage of turnovers and complete lack of growth from week to week, the Bears are his team now, and the Dalton era is over. But if I know Nagy, he will arbitrarily wait until (or if) Dalton gets healthy and take Fields out— if he’s struggling. Which he very well might.
Breaking news: He’s a rookie! The first few weeks, maybe even months will be rough. Let him learn and struggle now, so the Bears have a chance to see him become the star they think he is sooner. They’re not winning anything meaningful this season. They’re not stealing a bottom-tier playoff seed.
In this rare instance, Fields’ development comes before the Bears’ W-L — which isn’t to say he doesn’t give them a better chance to win because I think he does.
One can only hope Fields, and the Bears are out of the tunnel, and Nagy’s visor doesn’t grip too tight around his ever-running mind.
Sam - Nagy can talk a big game, and I do think it comes down to his condescension of the fans and media, but this isn’t going back. Fields basically has an audition period as long as Dalton’s injury keeps him from medical clearance. And I think that that is what ticks me off most, that Nagy talks down to all of us as if none of us have noticed that Fields is capable of being the best to ever don a Bears uniform in the last 70 years.
So long as Fields can work out most of his trouble spots (the false starts, the protections) I think he’s going to stay the starter. Fields isn’t some project QB or overdrafted prospect with “potential” he’s a polished QB who was a five-star recruit and has been the best QB in almost every room he’s walked into since he was 17. The dude’s pulse never seems to get above 72, he’s got ice water in his veins. He is confident, calm, collected and even-keeled. He’s going to work out those kinks and make the decision for Nagy.
Rob S - Barring an avalanche of bizarre mistakes like QB false starts, Fields will play the remainder of the season.
He’s got a tough game in Cleveland this weekend, but after the Lions game the following week I think he’ll be cemented as the starter. From an on-field perspective Andy Dalton doesn’t give the Bears’ enough to warrant going back to him.
Plus after two weeks of game-planning around Fields I think the Bears’ offensive staff will have enough experience play-calling to not want to shake up whatever momentum they have. Nagy can act like saying “Andy was always the starter when healthy” will make a de-facto benching easier to swallow for Fields, but I think he’s smarter than that — you can’t bench the kid now.
As a sidebar, Matt Nagy has been infuriating to listen to whenever he’s asked about the QB situation. I know, I know, coachspeak is coachspeak, but the “word salad” reputation Nagy’s picked up over the last few months is well-deserved (for instance, the “that’s scheme” spat with Brad Biggs was ridiculous). I certainly hope he’s communicating more clearly with Fields and the team, but either way he’s quickly losing whatever scraps of faith I had left in him.
Ken - Assuming Andy is out from the injury (as it appears at the time I write this), Justin Fields is the Bears quarterback moving forward. Done and done.
Bill - As long as Justin Fields is healthy, I can’t see Andy Dalton starting another game for the Chicago Bears. Dalton is going to miss a few games, unless Fields is next level terrible, there isn’t a reason to go back to Dalton.
Does Dalton do some things better than Fields at this point? Sure. But there are plenty of things Fields does better than Dalton at this point as well. Fields strikes me as a guy who learns from experience. He doesn’t make the same mistakes twice. Those false starts against Cincinnati were frustrating, but that’s not something he’s going to learn on the sidelines.
For me, this season isn’t about wins, it’s about having Fields grow and start to develop into the elite QB1 that many of us believe he can be. That means he needs to be on the field, forming chemistry with his offensive weapons, learning NFL defenses and growing as a quarterback. If that means a couple mistakes from Fields costs them a win or two? That’s fine.
Hopefully Fields’s playmaking ability earns them some wins that they wouldn’t have with Dalton as well. But this season is about developing Fields into the best QB he can be by week one 2022.
Jack Salo - Fields shouldn’t lose the job, and I think Matt Nagy will be very cagey about it when Dalton is perceived healthy enough to play. “We like where we’re at with Justin” is going to replace “We like where we’re at with Andy” and the team will go through Fields’ growing pains together. All I confidently foresee is awkward press conferences in the coming weeks.
Aaron - If Justin Fields plays remotely well, this is his job to keep.
It’s easy for Matt Nagy to sit there and tell the media Andy Dalton is still the starter when healthy. The same way that it was easy for him to convince us that Fields wasn’t ready. The reality is quite simple- If Fields shows promise and wins games, he’ll remain the starter.
All Nagy did by stating Dalton will still be the starter when healthy is leave the door open for Dalton to take back over if Fields struggles. At this point, he’d be foolish not to do so. Actions will speak louder than words. They always do with Nagy.