Following an impressive preseason debut, rookie Justin Fields has shaken up the conversation surrounding the Bears starting quarterback position.
While Matt Nagy named Andy Dalton the starter before Fields was even drafted, it’s a narrative that’s been a hot topic of conversation throughout the offseason and into preseason.
But Nagy made it clear they have a plan in place for Fields, where he can develop behind Dalton until he’s ready, much like what the Chiefs did with Patrick Mahomes during his rookie year when Nagy was in Kansas City.
NBC Sports’ Peter King met with Nagy the morning of the Bears’ preseason opener against the Dolphins — before Fields’ impressive preseason debut. Nagy told King he won’t put Fields in the lineup before he’s ready and before it’s best for the team.
“If we play Justin early to satisfy our needs, and not to do what’s best for Justin and the Chicago Bears, we’re going to ruin Justin and hurt the Bears,” Nagy told King. “We need to do is what’s best for the Chicago Bears—not only right now but we want this to be something that lasts 15 years. Not two years. See what I’m saying? What happens is, people get stuck in the moment, and they do it to satisfy themselves. I’m gonna do what’s best for Justin Fields. Not for Matt Nagy. People can say the save-your-job deal. Let me tell you how much I care about that part, okay? I don’t. When you start doing things to do things for yourself, you’re wrong. You’re dead wrong. You’re dead wrong. I’m not letting that happen. We are going to develop Justin right, and we’re sticking to it.”
That makes sense. Don’t rush your rookie quarterback until he’s ready. Don’t hand him the keys until he’s proven to give the team the best chance to win.
But what if that time is right now?
While it was just one preseason game, it’s hard to deny how comfortable Fields looked in his first NFL action. Fields was advertised as promised — a special skillset with impressive arm talent and mobility that will challenge defenses in this league.
Critics will point to the fact that he was playing against second and third string defenses. But those same critics won’t acknowledge that Fields was also playing with second and third stringers on offense. Not only playing with them but making them better, which is what great quarterbacks do.
While it’s hard to evaluate what this Bears offense will look like with Dalton, given he only got two series, it’s easy to see how Fields can breathe life into this offense when given the chance.
If Fields continues to outplay Dalton and show why he’s the best guy to lead this team, Nagy’s going to have a hard time justifying why Fields is on the bench in favor of Dalton.
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