It’s Victory Monday for the Chicago Bears, and before fans can even begin to enjoy the first win of the season, debate and controversy has already begun.
And, over what else? Obviously, it’s the quarterback position.
In the Bears’ 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, we saw starting quarterback Andy Dalton leave with an apparent knee injury. Dalton attempted to come back, but was seen limping a bit and eventually sat out the remainder of the game. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields took over, and from that point on, there should be no looking back.
Regardless of any growing pains or criticism we could provide for Fields’ performance, the one thing that stuck out was the same thing we’ve seen for the past month: Fields gives the Bears the best chance to win. But, does Matt Nagy realize this yet?
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy has a pivotal week ahead for he and his quarterbacks.
Following the game, Nagy was of course asked about his plan for the quarterback position next week. To nobody’s surprise, Nagy avoided the question.
Matt Nagy when asked if Andy Dalton is still the starter if he’s healthy:
“I’m not going to get into any of that.”
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) September 19, 2021
On one hand, it was a little surprising not to hear Nagy’s full support of the veteran. To this point, it’s been emphatic. Dalton has been Nagy’s starter, period. But now, the starting position is well up for debate.
Fields did have a couple of tough snaps, including two false starts. However, the pair of flags can be attributed to a lack of first team snaps. He’ll get his cadence down this week in practice.
As for the positives, Fields had a few dime balls to his top receivers. Two of his three best throws went without a catch, too, which the box score won’t tell you. A deep throw to Allen Robinson should have been a touchdown, but went right through his hands. Another big play could have been made by Darnell Mooney, but he dropped that one as well.
Late in the game, Fields made a crucial first down effort which essentially sealed the game, and he made it with his legs. If we rewind to the Bears’ first possession under Dalton in this game, the veteran was under pressure and chose immediately to throw the ball away. This was a scenario where, if Fields was the quarterback, he could have easily scrambled out of the single pass rusher’s grasp.
The differences between the two quarterbacks have been crystal clear for some time now, and it’s about time for Nagy to realize that he only has one correct decision to make this week.
It is time for Matt Nagy to officially unleash Justin Fields as the Chicago Bears starting quarterback.
Here’s the deal. The Bears’ defense finally showed up in a way we haven’t seen in over a year’s time. There is momentum on that side of the ball for the first time in a very long while. It is abundantly clear that they got the message after an embarrassing Week 1 performance.
This defense came to play, taking the football away four times against the Bengals. A Chicago Bears defensive touchdown is always a pretty sight to see, but specifically with this group, builds confidence and momentum.
We saw this unit grow in confidence as the game went on. Eddie Jackson finally played a solid game. Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack both came up with a sack. Akiem Hicks was an animal yet again. And, of course, Roquan Smith made the play of the day.
With the defense playing this way, the Bears have to ride the momentum. Fields will only continue to give this team the jolt they need on game day.
One more underrated aspect of this situation is the offensive line play, which was not great on Sunday. Both run blocking and pass blocking were an issue, unlike last week against the Rams. Fields’ mobility puts a bandaid on Ryan Pace’s inability to put together a competent line, and for that reason above many others, it should be the rookie’s show.
If Nagy comes out and says Dalton will start if he’s healthy, there will be no coming back from that. Last week, it was clear that there was a lack of faith in Nagy even from within the organization.
This week, we will see the national media, local media and fans everywhere clamoring for Fields. It’s going to be louder than ever before. If Nagy sticks to his guns and rolls with Dalton, things will not only get ugly for the Bears against the Browns next week, but they’ll get even uglier for Nagy.
Let’s say Dalton rolls out there Week 3 against Cleveland. The Bears lose, Dalton underperforms and gets pushed around. What type of faith should his players, coaches and the city have in him as a head coach if he can’t clearly see he’s made the wrong decision? Things will only get worse for Nagy if he doesn’t pull the trigger and get his rookie going. There is only one correct decision here: It’s Justin Fields time.