Bears coach Matt Nagy didn’t seem too concerned about quarterback Justin Fields’ ankle earlier this week. He said he expected him to play against the Seahawks on Sunday and described the reduction in his workout in training primarily as a precaution.
Turns out it was a bit cloudier than that, and Fields will likely miss the game.
The Bears will start third strand Nick Foles against the Seahawks, and practice team quarterback Ryan Willis will likely back him up.
It will be Foles’ first game for almost a year. It’s unclear if that means anything to him after being inactive for most of the season. He declined to speak to the media on Friday.
Foles hasn’t spoken publicly since training camp began, when he campaigned – including a mention of his Super Bowl MVP – to have the Colts or someone else trade for him rather than to leave him stranded as the Bears’ third quarterback. Nevertheless, he resigned himself to the role.
“I’m going to keep throwing it with those third strings, and we’re going to dice them,” he said.
Now he has the chance to pitch it and defeat the Seahawks after being inactive for eight of the first 14 games.
Nagy classified Fields as dubious on the injury report on Friday and said he would be available off the bench if he proved to be healthy enough in the warm-ups, but he clarified that it would be an option “of emergency “in case Willis does not have a clear enough understanding of the game manual.
To take any risk with Fields would be reckless, given that the Bears have nothing to do with the standings. It’s impossible to have a true emergency when the game is totally inconsequential, so it’s hard to believe Fields will be active.
The Bears have also ruled substitute Andy Dalton out with injuries to his left hand (non-pitcher) and groin.
So get ready for Foles and Willis.
Hey, wait, who’s Willis? Great question. He’s a 25-year-old who was not drafted from Virginia Tech and joined the Bears a week ago. He’s never taken an NFL snapshot.
Fields did not practice Thursday or Friday after “twisting” his ankle in the second quarter of the Bears’ 17-9 loss on Monday to the Vikings. He stayed in the game and said on Wednesday he expected to play in Seattle.
The Vikings hit him seven times on assists, including three sacks, and he took several hits in his seven rushes.
Having him play through the ankle injury, even as a substitute, would unnecessarily exacerbate the likely limitations he was already facing as a result of his cracked ribs a month ago. He’s been back for two games, but he’s almost certainly still in pain.
Fields’ rookie season was pretty tough, even when he was in good health. Amid the Bears constant reshuffle on the offensive line, caller changes and qualifying injuries, it has been difficult to get a good read of Fields’ progress.
He played one of his best games against the Vikings, completing 67% of his passes, throwing 285 yards and one touchdown and securing a 96.6 passer rating. For the season, however, he ranks 30th in the NFL in completion percentage (59%), 31st in passing yards per game (142.6), 32nd in intercept percentage (3.7%) and 29th in passer rating (73.2).
The Bears traded to Foles during the offseason in 2020, hoping he would fix their ongoing quarterback issue, but Mitch Trubisky beat him for the season opener. Foles replaced Trubisky in Week 3, but was again sidelined in favor of Trubisky in Week 12 for the remainder of the season.
Foles made his debut for the Bears freeing them from a 26-10 deficit with three touchdown passes in the final seven minutes against the Falcons. After that, he threw seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions en route to post a 79.3 passer rating.