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Why Rush Justin Fields Back Before He's Ready?

Analysis: Matt Nagy says it's "important" for Justin Fields to be playing in the preseason game against Buffalo, but when has any preseason game been so critical as to use a player three days after he sat out with a groin injury?

Something Matt Nagy said when describing the groin injury suffered by quarterback Justin Fields seemed rather curious.

It wasn't when he first told everyone about Cole Kmet's hamstring injury and Fields' groin injury, although the way he ended this comment was enough reason in itself to have skepticism.

"Cole, his hamstring is starting to get a little tight and Justin's groin was a little sore," Nagy said. "So those two guys we're going to pull back and make sure we gotta be smart there and so we're gonna be smart with them. We're gonna pull back and be conservative there.

"There's nothing to read into with either one of those guys, we're just being smart."

Move along. Nothing to see here except the future of the franchise hobbled.

But there is a more intriguing side to all of this.

Nagy wants to get extended playing time for quarterback Andy Dalton in Saturday's preseason game with Buffalo, but Fields was slated to play as well. Nagy said his plans remain intact for now.

"And again, like every day from here up until Saturday we've got to be careful with him because the plan is we want to be able to evaluate him," Nagy said. "We want to -- I think if we asked you (media) guys and we said 'hey would you rather he not practice today and play Saturday or practice today and not play Saturday?' what would you pick? Right? 

"So you all can't get mad that he's not practicing today. You know we're trying to be smart with him."

If he had stopped here, Nagy probably wouldn't have left ajar this door for a bit of speculation.

Fields had a poor practice by his standards on Tuesday, but all the Bears offensive players seemed to have the same trouble as they got slapped around by the defense. It may even have affected some of his throws.

"Yeah, he was a little sore and Justin is the last one that's going to tell you that's an excuse," Nagy said. "He's not going to use that excuse. He was pissed off at some of the throws and just the way in general yesterday, we were all a little bit, I didn't think offensively we had a very good day. 

"We were able to watch the film last night, go through it and correct it and see why and stuff, so, and I just, for us, we just, we gotta be smart. We want to be smart and it doesn't makes sense right now to push the limits with him and make (the groin) more sore."

Fair enough. No one would want to see Fields injured.

Yet, if this is the case then why even leave anything open to question? Just sit Fields down for a week of practice, miss the Buffalo preseason game, let Andy Dalton and Nick Foles have at it, and get Fields ready to try to play against Tennessee in the preseason finale. 

 After all, this is still just preseason.

When Nagy was asked about playing Fields against the Bills, he said it was too early to make a call on it and that they'd be resting Fields to see if he can feel well enough later to play.

"Again, we want to be able to get to that point where he's able to play in that game," Nagy said. "That's very important."


This is the same coach who wouldn't even let Mitchell Trubisky and the offense play in a full preseason let alone in one game. And now getting Fields a few snaps in another preseason game when he has a groin injury that obviously won't be healed by Saturday is "very important."

Hmmm. Your alert antennas should be standing straight up.

When was the last time any preseason game was so important for anyone? 

Sure, they want him getting more playing experience but it's preseason. It's preseason (feel free to do an Allen Iverson imitation here).

Unless, that is, one of two things are in the works:

1. The Bears are trading Nick Foles

This could very well happen and Nagy might want more assurances his rookie can do enough to play a backup role behind Dalton in case of injury. 

Keeping Foles at this point seems smarter because you need a backup if one of the quarterbacks goes down, and it's better to have someone with Foles' experience as backup then than someone who has been in the league for years without playing. Foles obviously already knows the offense better than any of the quarterbacks they could claim off waivers. 

The reason this theory should be shot down immediately is they have already said Fields is the backup and not Foles. If Dalton got hurt, would Foles be the backup, thereby making Fields just a third-stringer? No. At least we've been told this isn't going to be the case.

So Nagy shouldn't need reassurance Fields can fill the job of a backup since he's already filling the role.

2. Nagy is considering Fields for starter

The words "very important" really hit home.

How can one preseason game be very important in the development of a rookie quarterback? How can it be so important that you'd considering throwing him out on the field only three days after he had to miss practice because of a groin injury?

If he has a chance to start, that's how.

Conspiracy theorists will love this, but think about the other thing Nagy keeps saying.

Since minicamp, Nagy has repeated the same phrase when he finishes answering a question about whether he'll let Fields be considered for the opening day start. It's happened now at least three times.  

"Ultimately in the end you know whatever is best for the Chicago Bears is, in the end, what we're going to do," was what he said the last time he talked about it, on Monday.

If Dalton is the starter why not simply say it's Dalton, and then leave it at that?

They've already indicated Dalton was going to get the opening-day start. Yet when it's said, that one phrase keeps coming up at the end of the answers he gives. 

And now, here is this thought that a preseason game three days after a groin injury is important.

Is it possible what's best for the Chicago Bears might be Fields starting the opener and they really need to see what he does in that second preseason game because of this?

There are plenty of Bears fans who would answer that one with a little more authority. It would be in one word, three letters, and there would be no one left scratching their head about the true meaning.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven