Come Week 1, the Chicago Bears are set to start Andy Dalton front and center–– leaving first-round rookie quarterback Justin Fields waiting for his shining moment on the bench.
And with training camp right around the corner, head coach Matt Nagy isn’t even considering changing his original pre-draft plan. “There will be a process and a plan,” Nagy said via Sports Illustrated. “We will stick to that. That plan is not going to change tomorrow. The plan is not going to change in training camp.”
Of course, it would be a sight to see if Fields took the stage Week 1 against Mattew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams, but he’s more than OK with Nagy’s decision and has his focus elsewhere.
“I mean, if I don’t believe in it, then it’s not gonna work out, so my job is strictly to get better, be the best quarterback I can be and, you know, help my team win,” Fields told reporters in June. “So that’s what I’m going to do whether it’s starting, whether it’s sitting, I’m going to do whatever is the best that’s gonna help us win.”
And Fields is no stranger to winning. The number 11 overall pick was named Offensive MVP of this year’s Sugar Bowl, won 20 of his 22 starts at Ohio State, including two Big Ten titles and consecutive trips to the College Football Playoffs.
He finished his two years as a Buckeye with 5,373 yards, 63 touchdowns, nine interceptions, a 68.4% completion percentage, 867 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.
Dalton Has Taken Fields Under His Wing
Transitioning into the NFL from the collegiate level isn’t easy, but Fields has been blessed with a set of vetted QBs who have been there to mentor him since minicamp, even with their jobs’ futures on the line.
“Andy and Nick, they’ve been awesome,” he said. “Probably bigger than you guys would even know. Andy’s completely taken me under his wing. Any questions I have for him, he’s going to answer. Even when I’m throwing. I think there was one day after OTAs, I was throwing extra after practice and he stayed out there specifically just to see maybe what I was doing wrong and he was just trying to help me out. He’s been a huge help for sure.”
Having to wait your turn is nothing new to Fields, who served as a backup behind Jake Fromm at Georgie before transferring to Ohio State.
“I feel like there’s no reason not to embrace it,” Fields said. “I think there’s a lot of people who would want to be in my shoes right now, so I’m just grateful for the position that I’m in, and I’m just going to, again, take it day by day, be the best quarterback I can be.”
There Is Still a Quiet Battle Between the QB’s
While Nagy currently has his mind made up, there is an unspoken rule to show up to training camp ready to rock n’ roll and contrary to what he might say, the competition will still be hot between Dalton, Fields, and Nick Foles next week.
“But all three of those guys know that you need to produce, you need to play well, you need to compete, you need to be the best quarterback you can be and then it’s going to be really pretty easy for us to see who that is and how that goes,” Nagy said.
Even if we don’t see Fields start right off the bat, there is a good chance we’ll see him sooner rather than later. According to top sportsbooks, Nagy’s job is rumored to be on the line, so if Dalton underperforms, it’s likely his patience will run out fast.
But for now, all we can do is wait and see how preseason turns out. But if Fields happens to outshine the veterans before Week 1, don’t rule out Nagy changing his plan for the best.