When the Bears drafted Justin Fields in the first round of this year's NFL draft just over after already adding veteran quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Nick Foles, it created a bit of a log jam at a position that Chicago has struggled to get consistent production out of in recent years. A week before the team's season opener against the Rams, the pecking order has become clear.
Fields will serve as the backup to Dalton, with Foles serving as Chicago's No. 3, head coach Matt Nagy told The MMQB's Albert Breer. While that outcome might not sound too surprising considering Nagy's insistence that Dalton would be the starter, that Fields is tabbed ahead of Foles already is a noteworthy development. From Breer:
Maybe it seems like a small detail to most. But here’s why, to me, it really isn’t: The Bears have an experienced, battle-tested veteran on the roster in Nick Foles. And so going with Fields as Dalton’s primary backup means the coaching staff has confidence in putting Fields in a game at the drop of a hat, because it might have to, and that Foles is on the roster as a guy who’s proven he can play that role means that Fields had to earn that.
Also, for context, the Packers made Jordan Love their No. 3 last year, and didn’t dress him for a single game. Most No. 3 QBs don’t dress on game day. Accordingly, the Bears might not dress Foles this week, or at all this year, making Fields their only real safety net.
“And I think that’s a very valid point,” Nagy said. “If you go back and look at quarterbacks that have been drafted in the first round, there’s a lot of history that suggests that players that have started as backups, and some for different reasons than others, got in early that first year. But yeah, sometimes people take that for granted—like he should be the starter or the backup. You gotta earn that.
“And we did put him in that spot early on to see if he could keep it. And he did. He did everything to hold on to that. And we tell all the quarterbacks, Do everything you can to be the starter; make it hard on us. If you do that, you’ll make the Bears a better football team.”
As for Bears fans who have only fallen deeper in love with Fields after watching him shine during the preseason, their enthusiasm is not lost on their team's coach. Also from Breer:
When I asked Nagy if the Bears brass feels stronger about Fields, and having taken him 11th, now than in April, he didn’t skip a beat.“Oh, hell yeah,” Nagy said, laughing. “Oh yeah.”
More NFL Coverage: