Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy took the painful march to the podium to meet with members of Chicago’s media Monday following one of the worst offensive performances in franchise history. The Bears managed one net-yard passing and 46 rushing yards in a 26-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns Sunday, and it was Nagy who was charged with providing answers for what went wrong.
Unfortunately, and predictably, Nagy didn’t give those answers. Instead, he was very Socratic with his messaging.
“When you don’t have the success we had on offense [Sunday], with a rookie quarterback in Justin, of course it keeps you up at night, because you want to figure out why,” Nagy said. “So we’re looking at everything right now. Looking at everything—I think that’s being completely honest with you, and real. I care about this situation immensely. Our players care. Our coaches care. So we gotta figure it out and we’ve got to figure it out fast.”
Read between the lines of Nagy’s answer and all he’s doing is answering a question with a question. Almost 24 hours after Week 3’s final whistle and with the benefit of watching film (probably several times), Nagy’s camouflaged ‘I don’t knows’ have reached a breaking point. But the most discouraging part of Nagy’s media session was when he failed to commit to rookie Justin Fields for Week 4’s contest against the Detroit Lions.
Nagy told reporters that all three Bears quarterbacks—Fields, Andy Dalton, and Nick Foles—are under consideration for the start next Sunday. To be fair, he conditioned his response with health as a factor (Fields banged up his hand Sunday and Dalton is still recovering from a bone bruise in his knee). But the fact Nagy is playing this game of cat and mouse at quarterback is mind-numbing.
“We’re working through that,” Nagy said of the team’s QB situation.
Foles should never—ever—be included in the starting quarterback conversation for Chicago in 2021. The Bears had an extended look at the former Super Bowl winner in 2020 when he started seven games (appeared in nine) and finished the year throwing for 1,852 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was nothing more than the middling journeyman he’s been throughout his career. To suggest he could actually start a game for Chicago in a season when there’s a first-round blue-chipper at the position on the roster is ludicrous.
The wiser approach by the Bears would be to commit to Fields for the rest of the season—and they should make that commitment right now following what many would characterize as an extremely disappointing debut for the 11th overall pick. Fields finished Sunday’s game completing 6-of-20 passes for 68 yards.
Still, the fastest way for the Bears to fix their offense and to restore any confidence in the future of the organization is to let Fields lead the team for the final 14 games. He’ll take his lumps (literally), but good—if not special—moments will come too. He needs a real and legitimate chance to make those moments happen.
This is a simple decision. This isn’t rocket science. But neither is calling plays that allow a player like Fields to take advantage of his God-given gifts. Nagy already proved he’s capable of messing that up, so nothing would be surprising when it comes to his handling of the game’s most important position.
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