Nagy backed off his original plan to keep Fields on the bench all season. He’ll start Sunday at the Raiders. | AP Photos
Fields has been building the counterargument to Nagy’s plan of sitting him until 2022, and the case was so overwhelming that Nagy is making him the permanent starter in Week 5.
It took longer than anyone thought it should’ve.
It came only after mountains of public pressure.
It was the most obvious decision.
But finally, Bears coach Matt Nagy saw what everyone else has been seeing for months and made the move to Justin Fields as his permanent starting quarterback. From the day Fields reported to Halas Hall as the No. 11 overall pick, he has been building his counterargument to Nagy’s plan of keeping him on the bench until 2022.
In five months, Fields has gone from being assigned the onerous homework of reciting play calls into an iPhone and sending the audio in to be graded to knocking Andy Dalton out of his job. He’ll start against the Raiders on Sunday — and ideally for the next 15 years.
The case against the original plan began piling up almost immediately upon Fields’ arrival, though Nagy downplayed it at every turn by acknowledging his progress but adamantly rejecting the idea of a true quarterback competition.
Turns out there was a competition after all: Fields versus a plan that was prematurely cemented before the Bears had a chance to see how good he could be. He chiseled away it for months, then took a jackhammer to it when Dalton’s knee injury opened up the starting job.
The numbers haven’t been overwhelming, but his skills have been. Fields runs like no quarterback the Bears have ever had. He sends passes whistling 60 yards with precision. He’s clinical and confident as he processes the most complicated position in sports.
There’s no way Nagy could’ve credibly clung to Dalton as his starter once he saw that.
“When he got here… we weren’t sure how it was gonna be,” Nagy said. “But this whole, entire time, we’ve seen incremental growth.
“This isn’t something that just happened right away. He’s grown to this point. He’s earned it. He’s worked hard. And now he has this opportunity.”
Nagy is correct that Fields didn’t emerge as NFL-ready overnight, but he could’ve gotten there quicker had he been fast-tracked for the starting job from the onset. Nagy has reiterated Fields has been ahead of scheduled, but said Wednesday, “It doesn’t surprise me,” that he developed this far, this fast.
Fields expected it. Nagy’s new plan is the same as Fields’ original one. When asked Wednesday if he anticipated becoming the starter at some point this season rather than waiting for 2022, Fields didn’t eschewed the typical pre-packaged, one-day-at-a-time response.
“Yeah,” he said as surely as if he was stating a scientific fact. “That was my goal before the season started, so yeah.”