The final three weeks of the season mean little to the franchise’s trajectory. The Bears were officially eliminated from the playoffs last week and long ago ceded their 2022 first-round pick to the Giants. Coach Matt Nagy doesn’t plan to return next season – and general manager Ryan Pace might not be either. With games against the Seahawks and Giants over the next two weeks, the Bears won’t even be able to play the playoff spoiler.
The Bears’ most valuable part of the remaining season will be giving rookie quarterback Justin Fields as much playing action as possible.
“Every rep he gets will help him become a great quarterback,” Nagy said.
On Wednesday, however, those representatives were called into question.
The Bears made Fields a limited participant in training, even though it was only an indoor tour of the Walter Payton Center. The reason: Fields injured his ankle in the second quarter on Monday night against the Vikings.
“When you play the game you have a lot of adrenaline,” Fields said. “So that’s when I first felt it, but I was still good enough to play it. Of course, it got worse after the game and the next morning. But it was better [Wednesday] Morning.
“Right now I expect to play, but it’s really day to day.”
Nagy reiterated that he didn’t think Fields would miss the Seahawks game.
“Obviously he played through it [Monday]Nagy said. “So now we just have to see how it goes and see where it is for the rest of the week.”
Nagy said the Bears decided to hold a tour on Wednesday because they were less than 48 hours away from Monday night’s game. He said the team will take the right approach in deciding how much Fields will train this week.
“You always want to be smart – and we’re going to do that, just like we deal with every injury with every player,” Nagy said. “We will be more careful than anything to make sure that every day and every hour that passes he feels better.”
If Fields plays on Sunday, he might be embarrassed. For a quarterback who relies on his mobility – he ran seven times for 35 yards against Minnesota – an ankle injury could limit what he does best.
If Fields can’t go, the Bears might turn to a new old face: Nick Foles. He is the Bears’ Channel 2 quarterback with Andy Dalton on the reserve / COVID-19 roster. As he is vaccinated, Dalton could return in time for the Seahawks game.
Foles hasn’t taken a slap this season, but started seven games for the Bears last year, winning two. He spent training camp playing with the third strings and the regular season on the scouting squad.
Tight end Cole Kmet played with Foles last year and intermittently during training camp drills.
“I feel pretty comfortable with Nick there,” he said. “You obviously want to get reps and some timing in that regard, but that’s exactly what it is at this point.”
The Bears hope we don’t get there. There is nothing more important during the remainder of a lost season than giving Fields opportunities to learn.
“It won’t happen overnight this year, next year,” Nagy said. “It’s going to take a little while, and he’s going to keep growing every year. But in the end it’s gonna be awesome because it’s gonna be really good.