Justin Fields is the face of the Chicago Bears. It doesn’t matter if Matt Nagy is the head coach and has been running the show for a few years. It doesn’t matter if Andy Dalton is starting. It doesn’t matter if Khalil Mack is the most decorated member of the team.
Justin Fields is the face of the Chicago Bears.
Any talk of the Bears this year will be dominated by discussions around Fields and right now those talks are all centered around “When will he play?”
Not “How will he play?” really — but When?
Many of the stories about Sean McVay this week are not about Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, or even anyone on the Los Angeles Rams. Instead, the discussion again centers around Fields and if he will make his NFL debut this Sunday at SoFi Stadium as the Rams host the Bears on Sunday Night Football.
McVay said he that LA is of course preparing to see Fields in “some form or fashion” on Sunday.
That doesn’t mean that the Rams will see Fields on Sunday, and I would find it unlikely that Fields plays for more than a couple of offensive snaps.
If the Bears went for the Lamar Jackson model, it would require a blowout to happen before Fields sees the field. The 2018 first round pick was stuck behind former Super Bowl-winner Joe Flacco, but entered the Ravens’ Week 1 contest of his rookie season and completed one-of-four attempts for 24 yards, rushing the ball seven times for 39 yards.
Baltimore beat the Bills that day, 47-3.
I do not expect Chicago to find themselves up 44 points this weekend.
Jackson would only throw two pass attempts over the next six games, not taking over for Flacco completely until Week 11 of that season.
Nagy has been saying since the team signed Dalton and since the team drafted Fields that the Bears starting quarterback would be the veteran who has started at least nine games in every campaign since 2011. That includes a 4-5 record with the Cowboys last season, when Dalton threw 14 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and completed 65% of his attempts.
Dalton has been pulled for performance reasons in his career, but has been dependable and reliable and there’s no reason to expect him to leave this game due to injury.
Fields was a dominant college passer at Ohio State over the last two seasons, completing 68.4% of his 579 attempts with the Buckeyes, throwing 63 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 22 games. All but two of those were victories, with both losses coming in the college football playoffs; a 2019 loss to Clemson and a 2020 loss to Alabama.
Fields also threw six touchdowns in a CFP win over the Tigers last year.
JUSTIN FIELDS WHAT A THROW HOLY pic.twitter.com/7H83WuHaTx— Barstool OSU (@BarstoolOSU) August 29, 2021
But there’s little question that his game at the pro level will need refinement and work to improve over the coming months and years. Talk of Fields being either a bust or a steal in the draft at this point is entirely too premature and indefensible, but saying that a rookie quarterback could struggle in his first season is hardly a hot take.
Dalton had every opportunity to lose the job to a rookie like Cam Newton did in New England with Mac Jones, but Nagy hasn’t budged from his position on the starter.
Will the Rams face Justin Fields on Sunday? I’m sure Nagy will have to think of some way to get the face of the franchise on the field for at least one play, but no, I do not expect them to see enough of Fields for it to matter.