A History Making Season Awaits Justin Fields

Image by Zachary Rosenbaum – https://www.instagram.com/zacharyrosenbaumdesign/

In what has seemed like an eternity since that fateful evening on April 29, when the Bears did the unthinkable and snared Justin Fields, the moment we gave all been waiting for is finally here – Bears training camp.

Despite Matt Nagy’s best efforts to water down any speculation that Fields could be the Bears starting quarterback in Week 1, all eyes will be closely fixed on the Dalton v Fields quarterback competition.

The narrative that Nagy continues to peddle, and to put it quite simply is that Andy Dalton is the Bears starting quarterback. End of story.

Speaking with Marc Silverman on ESPN 1000’s Waddle and Silvy on June 15, Nagy was probed by Silvy as to whether any promises had been made to Andy Dalton in him being the starting QB in Week 1.

Nagy’s response:

“No, Marc. Promises can get pretty crazy. But what we told Andy is that he’s our starter. He knows that. That’s what Justin knows, that’s what Nick knows, and the rest of our coaches (know).”

“There were no promises, but we told him and I specifically told him you’re our starter. And that’s that.”

Nagy also added:

“Andy Dalton is our starter.”

So no promises have ever been made by the organization, yet Dalton was specifically told that he will be the Bears starting QB.

Where’s the John C. Reilly “Dr Steve Brule” GIF when you need it?

Interestingly, however, Nagy did also go on to say:

“When you go through OTAs, training camp, preseason, the only goal we have is to put the best quarterback out there.”

To most Football-minded fans, putting “the best quarterback out there” is the most logical approach when making decisions for the single most important position in all of sports.

Now, let’s just stop here real quick. I have nothing against Dalton. In fact, quite the opposite. I actually feel for the guy that he has been put into such an unenviable, lose-lose situation with Chicago fans.

As The Irish Bears Show host Anthony Morrisey discussed so eloquently on BDR podcast episode 46: Around The World 2.0

“The fear I have with the Chicago Bears fans is at training camp. So the first day of training camp Justin Fields comes out and hits two bombs down the field and everybody’s dancing around the place and Andy Dalton does a check-down and the wide receiver makes a mistake and is intercepted and Andy Dalton gets booed at training camp.”

The arguments for why Fields will make his debut in the 2021 season.

  1. Nagy under fire

The Bears organization has given Nagy everything he needs for a successful campaign in 2021. Matt Nagy is coaching for his career and the pressure will be on him like never before. Will missing the play-offs be a pass mark for Nagy? I think not.

  1. Fields’ fire burns brightly:

Could Nagy’s comments regarding Andy Dalton be just some good old fashioned smoke screening?

Justin Fields is motivated by the cynics, the critics and those (and there’s been a few) that have doubted him every step of the way. Is it possible, maybe, just maybe that Nagy’s comments about the supposed non-existent quarterback competition are a purposely lit fire set in the gut of Justin Fields to further ignite Fields’ burning ambition to start Week 1?

  1. Patience may not be a virtue:

Nagy is impatient. Remember how quickly he pulled the Nick Foles parachute cord in Week 3 at Atlanta after one too many Mitch Trubisky interceptions?

Should Nagy be true to his word and not give into temptation, he will also have the Bears fans to worry about. Can Nagy withstand public pressure and “stay the course” in keeping Fields inexplicably protected by a thick layer of bubble wrap for the 2021 season?

  1. Matt, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

We keep hearing the Patrick Mahomes comparison. The problem is that Andy Dalton is not Alex Smith. Much like Justin Fields is not Patrick Mahomes. This “like for like” scenario that continues to be discussed is as pointless as it is irrelevant to the Fields situation.

Nagy needs to coach the situation in front of him. Not the one that he was faced with in 2017.

A brief history of rookie quarterbacks at Chicago:

Rookie quarterback dominance is a foreign concept at Chicago. By the time Justin Fields does in fact make his debut, he will be the 12th starting rookie Bears quarterback with the first being Bobby Douglass way back when in 1969.

Of the 11 Bears rookie quarterbacks to come before Fields, only three have gone on to play more than 50 games for Chicago; Bob Avellini 1975-84 (50), Mitch Trubisky 2017-20 (51), and Jim McMahon 1982-88 (61).

Jim McMahon has the winningest record for both regular, and post-season games (.754 and .600 respectively) for Bears rookie quarterbacks.

Rookie year records:

Total touchdowns:

Jim McMahon: 10 (9 passing and 1 rushing).

Passing Yards:

Mitch Trubisky: (2193 yards)

Rushing Yards:

Bobby Douglass: (408 yards)

Enter Justin Fields:

We all know that Fields is a freak athlete…well maybe not Chris Simms but we’ll let that one go for the time being.

In 2020, Fields amassed a whopping 26 touchdowns (22 passing and 4 rushing) in just 8 games for a combined average of 3.25 per game. This average is strikingly similar, if not slightly better than Trevor Lawrence’s average of 3.2 from a combined 32 touchdowns from 10 games.

Yes, we are talking College numbers but dang these are impressive (for both QB’s).

Fields will start in 2021. It’s not a matter of if but when. It may not be Week 1, but rest assured it will happen before bye week (Week 10).

Provided he performs and stays healthy, Fields should have at least 8 starts in front of him to rewrite some history and put some serious smiles on Bears fan’s faces.

Of the three aforementioned records, McMahon’s 10 touchdowns looks to be the most at threat. In 2018, DeShaun Watson proved in his rookie year at Houston that despite having a limited number of starts, that a rookie QB can have an impact. Watson threw for 8 touchdowns and 1201 yards in 7 games.

Fields is a touchdown machine. In three years of College Football, he threw for 67 touchdowns and ran for 19.

In terms of passing yards, Fields may not reach the heights of Mitch Trubisky’s impressive rookie year but will, however, average more yards per game than Trubisky (182.8) by season’s end. With a full season in year 2, Fields will destroy this target.

The statistic that intrigues me most is Bobby Douglass’s record of 408 rushing yards. It is no surprise that Justin Fields is an elite passer, yet it is his ability to devastate the opposition using his legs in the run game that will make for fascinating viewing this season.

This is an area where the Bears have been seriously lacking and have looked so vulnerable. In 2020, Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles ran for a combined 211 yards. Woof!

Fields was the only College quarterback to rank in the top 10 in both the passing and rushing grade. In 2020, Fields averaged 47.8 rushed yards per game (383 yards for 81 attempts).

With all that said, I think Fields can overtake Douglass’s rushing record, provided he has enough games under his belt to do so.

Fields’ performances at training camp will be a major talking point for the next few weeks. The competition with Dalton will be as intriguing as it will be exciting and we might finally have some clarity as to how serious Matt Nagy is with the position and his intent for the season opener in L.A.

I for one, am hoping that Fields makes his debut in Week 1, and that deep down Nagy has an open mind.

Until then I’m going to enjoy the ride and be George Michael and have “faith, faith, faith”.

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