Good thing for Bears coach Matt Nagy that he already declared his Week 1 starter two months ago. Otherwise, it’d be awfully stressful trying to figure out what to do with rookie Justin Fields after a sensational preseason debut in which ran and threw all over the place. And made football fun again in Chicago.
Picture a delay-of-game flag on the first play of the opener as he keeps wrestling with whether it should be Fields or Andy Dalton.
But Nagy says he’ll stick with Dalton regardless of Fields completing 14 of 20 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown pass and racing for an 8-yard score against the Dolphins. He stumbled by being a little too loose with ball security on a scramble and firing a near-interception over the middle, but there was more than enough good to suggest he could be ready by Sept. 12 against the Rams.
And the truth is, the Bears need him to be. Given their ongoing offensive line problems, escaping from a collapsing pocket is a critical part of the job description of Bears starting quarterback. Fields has that ability. It’s hard to see how Dalton can function in that setting.
Fields’ touchdown run with 9:45 left in the third quarter was the materialization of everything the Bears imagined when they traded up to draft him No. 11 overall. As the blocking faltered on his blindside, Fields scanned the secondary right to left, sensed the pressure and calmly maneuvered through it — rather than panic and run away from it — for a clear path to the end zone.
Getting a glimpse of that talent and then waiting indefinitely to see it in a real game is going to be excruciating. All the excitement of finally seeing world-class athleticism at quarterback for the Bears is doused by the reality that Nagy won’t reconsider. With nearly a month for Fields to keep progressing, it’s not even on the table for him to start the opener.
The better Fields performs, the more it feels like the Bears are just waiting for waiting’s sake.