Justin Fields’ parents were in town this week. They were at their 22-year-old’s home on Tuesday night when Fields broke the big news to them – he was going to be the Bears’ starting quarterback going forward.
His parents’ reaction was to go out and party.
“I just told them ‘No I’m fine,’ Field said.
The 11th pick in the draft chose to stay home with his French Bulldog Uno and watch the strip. As for his parents? They went out without him.
Fields Tuesday Night illustrates everything bears love about Fields. How many 22-year-olds would make the same choice? Fields is the future of the Bears quarterback. Now that future can finally begin in earnest.
The Champs will start this week for the Bears in their Week 5 contest against the Las Vegas Raiders. Despite veteran Andy Dalton returning to training on Wednesday, Bears coach Matt Nagy has confirmed Fields will be the starter going forward.
“It wasn’t something that happened right away,” Nagy said of Fields. “He grew to this point. He deserved it, he worked hard.”
The move is a clear change for Nagy and the Bears. Nagy said as late as Monday that Dalton would be the starter if he was in good health.
Dalton injured his knee in the Bears’ Week 2 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The 11th-year veteran twisted his knee after going out of bounds along the sideline. Fields finished the first half and played the entire second half of this game.
Since then, Fields has started each of the last two games, a loss to Cleveland in Week 3 and a win over Detroit on Sunday. The loss to Cleveland has been a historically bad game for the Bears’ offense. Fields completed 6 of 20 passes for 68 yards. He rebounded in the win over Detroit with 209 yards on 11 of 17 assists with an interception.
When the Bears drafted Fields last spring, the team said early on that Dalton would be the starter. Nagy referred to his experience with Kansas City rookie Patrick Mahomes in 2017, when Mahomes spent most of his first season.
The Bears stuck with that plan throughout training camp. Dalton took almost all the representatives of the first team. After the regular season began, Fields served as the Scout team’s replacement and quarterback in training. The rookie played sparingly in the season opener. Nagy used it in special packages here and there throughout the game, but it didn’t look like there was any intention to play it extensively.
Dalton’s knee injury in week two changed everything.
“Andy unfortunately injured his knee,” Nagy said. “It sped up the plan. And so I always said from the start to everyone here, to our players, to coaches, to [the media] when you ask is that we will know. And he has done everything to show us that he is ready for this opportunity. “
Nagy informed both quarters of his decision on Tuesday. Nagy said Dalton was – understandably – disappointed, but he handled it like a pro.
“I can’t say enough good things about Andy Dalton,” Nagy said Monday. “I’ve been around a lot of special people, guys who’ve done it the right way.… I love the type of teammate he is and continues to be. He’s as good as them.”
Dalton called Fields on Tuesday and congratulated the rookie on the big opportunity ahead. Fields said Dalton told him he would be there for whatever he needed.
“He didn’t want our relationship to change because of the situation,” Fields said. “So I told her it was very heartwarming to hear from her. I think our relationship has just grown over the past few months.”
Overall, this move was inevitable. Nagy’s comments on Monday seemed to indicate he was still holding out, or at least some people in Halas Hall were. But conversations over the past 48 hours have led the coaching staff to this conclusion.
The hurt feelings for Dalton are real. By all accounts, Dalton is a great guy and a great teammate. It pained Nagy to have to demote him. It was obvious from Nagy’s description of the conversation that telling Dalton was not an easy thing to do.
But it’s time for the Bears to move on. With two starts already under his belt, Fields is not looking back. It didn’t make sense for the Bears to look back, either.
“It’s Justin’s time,” Nagy said. “We are so confident that we know where he is, where Justin is at, and to continue [to] let it grow. The most important thing for us is to understand that it will not be perfect. “
It may not be perfect. The bears might have a hard time. Many rookie quarterbacks do.
But it is better for the organization to let Fields deal with the growth issues now. There is no longer any reason to wait.