Had Matt Nagy been successful, Andy Dalton would have remained the Bears’ starting quarterback earlier this season, according to a new report. By Hub Arkush, the call to name Justin Fields as a starter for Week 5 and beyond came from team president George McCaskey, and the order went against Nagy’s wishes as head coach .
There is a lot to unbox from the history of Arkush. First, there’s the obvious revelation that Nagy believed Dalton always gave the Bears the best chance at winning, that Fields sitting down was the best for his development, or both. Then there is the claim that McCaskey had inserted himself into football operations, although he has publicly stated that he leaves football decisions to his football team. Making Fields the permanent starter seems like the right move in retrospect. He showed growth and clearly overcame rookie mistakes. The idea is that it is better to eliminate all of that now, in a lost season, so that it can start in 2022. But the way the Bears made that decision does not look great. ‘a stranger’ perspective.
It is also the second report involving McCaskey to surface on Wednesday. Dan Pompei reported that McCaskey met with Bears players and coaches to deny Tuesday’s news that Nagy would be sacked after their Thanksgiving game against the Lions.
Nagy infamously named Dalton the team starter before the draft, then doubled that up early in training camp. He ruled out any chance Fields would win the job over the summer, drawing criticism from the media and fans.
Dalton started the first two games of the season, but came out in the middle of Week 2 with an injury, forcing Fields into the starting lineup. But Nagy maintained that when in good health Dalton was the starter.
Here’s Nagy on the Monday before the Week 5 game against the Raiders:
“Like we’ve been saying all this time, when Andy is healthy, when he’s healthy, he’s our starter. He’s 1. Justin is 2. Nick is 3.”
But on Wednesday of this week, Dalton pulled out of the injury report and returned to training. And Nagy changed his tone:
“We had good conversations internally. It has helped us over the past two weeks. Continuing this process this week, it led to the decision to move with Justin as a starter. You know we’ve been patient with this. We grew up with him. We are proud of Justin.
From that point on, it was the Fields team. But a rib injury knocked him out of the Week 11 game against the Ravens. Now it’s up to Dalton to lead the team again on Thanksgiving Day.