The Chicago Bears are officially Justin Fields’ team. This after Head Coach Matt Nagy announced the rookie would continue to start even with Andy Dalton fully returning to practice. Nagy had said the veteran would remain the starter when healthy on Monday. Things have changed up at Halas Hall.
They planned to bring the 11th overall pick in this past April’s NFL Draft along slowly. Some might say they took that plan to the extreme, limiting his reps with the starters in camp.
No more, the electrifying quarterback will now get to learn on the job.
Bears Rookie Quarterback Justin Fields to Start Going Forward
Above the Paygrade
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for Nagy. Forced to start the rookie ahead of schedule due to Dalton’s injury, he came under fire for a poor game plan against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. Even folks who pointed to player execution as a problem conceded that it was an issue that falls on the head coach.
Nagy (presumably reluctantly) relinquished play-calling duties this past week against the Detroit Lions. The decision restored offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to a role he had at the end of last season.
The results were impressive, even if they did come against a bottom-feeding team (no matter how scrappy they are).
So Nagy’s postgame presser where he seemed to snatch praise from his statements on Lazor for himself. It was a bizarre moment for someone who many say their best asset is being a “CEO” of the team.
One has to wonder how much of this has been left in Nagy’s hands at this point. Having once thought there was a chance the coach outlasted the general manager, could we now see a spot where Pace could need to part with Nagy to preserve himself? Not as long as Fields continues to show things as he did against the Lions.
Of course, Fields’ next test will be a lot tougher.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 6, 2021
Step Up in Class
Don’t be fooled by the results from Monday Night Football where the Las Vegas Raiders fell to the Los Angeles Chargers 28-14. First, the Chargers are legit led by their head coach and former Bears assistant Brandon Staley. Second, and almost more importantly, Vegas beat the Bears the last time these two teams faced off back in 2019.
That game took place in London and was turned on its ear when Akiem Hicks went down with an injury.
Vegas rushed for 169 yards in that game and the Bears lost their next three games and four of the next five. After the game, Raiders head coach, John Gruden, put on a pseudo-celebration poking fun of the Bears ‘Club Dub’.
The Raiders’ pass rush isn’t as good as the Browns or Rams, but it is certainly a step above the Lions. And they hold the top spot in ESPN’s Run Stop Win Rate.
Good luck reckoning that with their allowing 168 rushing yards to the Chargers. Or with them allowing Justin Herbert to throw for three touchdowns when they had allowed two total in the three games prior.
There is also the little matter of what Chargers EDGE Joey Bosa had to say about Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr being rattled by pressure.
Chicago leads the NFL in sacks. Khalil Mack has been his usual self. If anything, he’s flashing on the screen more than he has the last two seasons. Some of that is due to seemingly getting more 1-on-1 matchups and that may be due to the resurgence of Robert Quinn. The man who flamed out last season after signing a monster deal is healthy this year.
His $35 million in guarantees looked awful after he recorded just two sacks last season. He has 4.5 sacks already this season to lead the team through four weeks.
Bosa’s words have to be music to the duo’s ears.
Carr, the NFL’s passing yards leader, was sacked four times by the Chargers. It will be incumbent on Mack and Quinn to keep Carr uncomfortable and unable to find Henry Ruggs over the top because Darren Waller could feast. Chicago’s pass defense ranks worse than Vegas’.
The Bears biggest worry is the health of tailback David Montgomery. He’s set to miss the next 3-5 weeks with a knee issue.
But Chicago planned for something like this and have Damien Williams on the roster to handle duties until Montgomery’s return. Now the question is about the depth behind Williams as now-top backup Khalil Herbert was also returning kicks. To remedy that, the Bears traded a sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Jakeem Grant.
While the move was made with Herbert and the running back situation in mind, this is a boon for what has been a long-suffering special teams unit.
Justin Fields to Start From Here on Out
The cat’s out of the bag now. After months of fighting it, Nagy will let his protege hold onto the starting role that he is predestined for. This was always the smart route, especially after Fields had to come in for an injured Dalton to finish out the Week 2 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. But the coach, whose middle name may very well be ‘stubborn’ was steadfast.
Committing to Dalton never made sense, and even less so to preemptively say he would remain the starter once healthy.
Typically, coaches avoid taking a player’s job away due to injury. Dalton’s is a special case with the heir apparent on the roster. But it’s one the Bears are familiar with having followed a similar pattern with Mike Glennon and Mitchell Trubisky, who got his first start in Week 5 in 2017.
It’s a new day at Halas Hall, that’s for sure. Whether or not it is a good “day” or bad remains to be seen. But the future looks much brighter today than it did, and it’s here a lot sooner.
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