- The Chicago Bears have named rookie Justin Fields as the team’s starting quarterback for the rest of the 2021 season.
- Head coach John Nagy also indicated that the move wasn’t subject to the injury status of previous starter Andy Dalton.
- The Bears are 2-2 on the season and will play at Las Vegas against the Raiders on Sunday.
Just a couple of weeks after insisting that Andy Dalton would remain the Chicago Bears’ starting quarterback if healthy, head coach Matt Nagy has reversed course. Earlier today, he named rookie Justin Fields as the Bears’ starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Also clarified–this decision is not contingent upon the health status of Dalton who is currently recovering from a bone bruise in his left knee.
Fields has started the last two games for the Bears and demonstrated significant improvement in the process. He went 6 of 20 (30%) in his first career start, a 26-6 loss at Cleveland. On Sunday, he rebounded dramatically in a 24-14 home win over the Detroit Lions going 11 of 17 (64.7%) for 209 yards and one interception. Coincidentally, Dalton was a full participant at practice on Tuesday and will be the team’s backup quarterback.
In his comments to the media, Bears’ head coach Nagy recognized that it is a significant move:
“It is a big decision, but we feel very good about it and are looking forward to it”.
He then took a deeper dive into the process of deciding the time was right to install Fields as the Bears’ starting quarterback:
“The No. 1 thing that I understood as a head coach and that we all understood as an organization is knowing that when you make a trade up to go get a guy to develop and be the franchise quarterback, you always know that there’s going to be that want to get him in there ASAP.”
“At the same point in time, again, we had our plan with Andy and developing Justin. And so, I think that for me, I knew it came with the territory, and all we wanted to do was do everything we can to do what’s best for this team. And again, I’d be lying to you if I sat here and told you it wasn’t really hard to have that discussion with Andy. Those are not easy discussions because there’s the human side of it, and I don’t care who you are, if you’ve got a good heart, that stuff hurts.”
“It was definitely good news to hear. I would say I was a little bit surprised, but I mean, not really crazy surprised. But definitely a little bit of surprise. I feel like he was pretty straightforward with me and Andy. And I think my teammates believe in me, so just grateful for the opportunity and just trying to get ready to work.”
Nagy also took time to give props to Dalton for his toughness and work ethic:
“One thing that Andy has earned from me and our coaches is a hell of a lot of respect, because that guy is a freaking stud. I’m so glad he is on our team and I appreciate the way he understood it and the way he handled it, but he also cares immensely about this team and I appreciate that.”
Nagy also said the week to week improvement that Fields’ demonstrated during his two starts was the primary motivating factor for the move:
“He’s done everything to show us that he’s ready for this opportunity. After this past weekend and the growth we saw with Justin, the discussions we had were to go this direction.”
“This is Justin’s time. We’re so confident moving forward with that. He’s earned it.”
Next up for Fields and the Bears is a date with the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday. Las Vegas is a -5.5 favorite in that game with the total set at 44.5.