The Chicago Bears officially named Justin Fields the team’s starting quarterback on Wednesday, ending a painful four weeks of head coach Matt Nagy holding onto his promise that Andy Dalton will remain the starter if healthy.
Fields has started two games for the Bears this season, with Week 4’s win over the Detroit Lions serving as a showcase of his downfield playmaking ability. While attempting only 17 passes, his 13.2 average intended air yards were tops in the league, as were his average completed air yards, 12.8, per Next Gen Stats. Fields has completed 25-of-52 passes for 347 yards and two interceptions this season, numbers that are skewed because of Chicago’s disastrous breakdown against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3.
Nagy said Wednesday that Fields has done everything to show the Bears that he’s ready for this opportunity, adding, “This is Justin’s time.”
The Bears’ coach has come under fire this season for refusing to name Fields the starter despite the rookie possessing a skill set that makes him arguably the best all-around player on the team.
“What needs to be understood is the plan and process we had going into this was important,” Nagy said. “When Andy got hurt with his knee, that sped the plan up. I have always said from the beginning, we’ll know and he’s done everything to show us he’s ready for this opportunity.”
Dalton missed the last two games with a bone bruise to his knee, an injury that opened the door for Fields to prove he belongs with the starters. The fact Dalton won’t return to the starting lineup is an expected outcome; he wasn’t going to be able to hold off Fields for long, even if he was healthy.
Fields takes over the team as they embark on a brutal three-game stretch against the Las Vegas Raiders, Green Bay Packers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There will be bumps in the road, as there always are with rookie starters. Still, Nagy did the right thing. He made the obvious decision. Now it’s up to Fields to prove he can lead the Bears into a new era of exciting wins, beginning Sunday against the Raiders.
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