Sean McVay is in game-planning mode. Over the years, we’ve come to learn how thorough the 35-year-old head honcho can be when he gets in his zone. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to hear that McVay wants his defense to be ready for Chicago Bears backup quarterback Justin Fields, just in case the Bears decide to use their rookie signal-caller on Sunday night in an unconventional fashion.
“I think it would be naive for us not to prepare for them to be able to utilize him [Fields] in some form or fashion,” McVay said. “You see the ways Justin made a lot of plays going back to his career at Ohio State, what he showed in the preseason. So, I think you have to be ready for both quarterbacks.”
How should the Bears use Fields on Sunday night? The correct answer would be as their starting quarterback (well, duh), but Bears head coach Matt Nagy insists on making us suffer through a few more Andy Dalton moments before inevitably turning things over to Fields—it will happen at some point in 2021. Stay patient, Bears faithful.
Knowing that Fields will not start the Week 1 contest, we have to pivot and imagine another way that Fields could be of use on Sunday. One way or another, the Bears should absolutely find a way to get him on the field against the Rams.
The Bears are going to need to score points if they hope to win this game, and I do mean points. It can’t be the run-run-pass-punt offense we’ve too often seen from Nagy during his tenure as head coach and play-caller in Chicago. That’s not going to beat McVay and his new quarterback, Matthew Stafford. Going into the game with that frame of mind, the Bears need to throw the kitchen sink at the Rams’ excellent defense.
If that means getting creative with their usage of Fields, then that’s what needs to be done. I’d especially be interested in seeing Fields enter the game in the red zone. We know that Fields can make plays with his arm and his legs, and that ability becomes so much more dangerous within 20 yards of the end zone. In three exhibition games, Fields ran for 92 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. That’s an average of more than eight yards per carry. If the Bears are going to be stubborn and roll with Dalton, they should at least find a way to take advantage of Fields’ dynamic skill set.
Simply put, there’s a competitive advantage to be gained here and the Bears need to do everything in their power in an attempt to swing the momentum in this one. They are severely outmatched on paper. No defense was stingier in the passing game last season than their Week 1 opponent was. The Rams gave up a measly 3,051 passing yards a year ago, and the Bears totaled just 3,655 yards through the air. Yes, it’s a new year, but how confident are you that Dalton can turn this team into an offensive juggernaut?
Nagy hasn’t shown much creativity in Chicago, but there’s no time like the present. In fact, his job very likely depends on his ability to get Fields up to speed and on the field sooner rather than later.