Justin Fields Could Play the KC Waiting Game

Analysis: Patrick Mahomes waited and Bears coach Matt Nagy said it played a big role in his success, so the ideal situation is for Justin Fields to do the same.
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It's not the answer Bears fans would want to hear because they have their new quarterback and want to see him play.

So, Matt Nagy at last week's OTAs probably didn't win a popularity contest when he was asked about working with Patrick Mahomes in his first season of 2017, and how it relates to rookie Justin Fields.

The specific nature of the question was whether waiting 16 weeks before he got on the field helped Mahomes. 

"Yeah, I think it did," Nagy said. "I think Patrick would probably tell you the same thing."

Here is where Bears fans can cringe.

The training of Justin Fields is supposed to come from the Mahomes mold. Nagy brought it along from Kansas City and sees the benefits of making the rookie wait.

"These guys are all competitive," Nagy said. "That doesn't mean that that's going to happen for any of these guys. I mean, there's so many things, these quarterbacks could come in, these running backs, wide receivers, whatever position—you never know how the season goes."

It's true enough. An injury to Andy Dalton means Fields plays, just like an Alex Smith injury in Kansas City would have hastened Mahomes' debut. 

"But in that scenario in '17, when you ask Patrick, for him to be able to develop like that and learn from Alex and grow, he would probably tell you it was a pretty good thing to happen to him," Nagy said. "If he would have played sooner, would he have done what he did the following year? Maybe. We don't know that.

"But for him—I don't want to speak for Patrick but I would guess it helped him grow to be able to really learn so that when he got in that last regular season game against Denver he went out there and had fun with it and we won the football game."

There is something Nagy says he'll be looking for over the course of minicamp this week, training camp and preseason.

"What we want to see is we want to see the plays he has now repped in the offseason, in training camp, we want to see him making better decisions and better throws, and that's really for all of the quarterbacks," Nagy said.

If it goes according to the Kansas City plan without injuries involved, it seems like a time-consuming process.

The other issue facing teams is even greater now than it was in 2017 and that's getting the most out of a young quarterback when he is on his rookie contract. There's even more of an emphasis now across the league to have that production coming in earlier because it can mean a better ability to keep the salary cap in shape if a passer is paid less. The second contract is going to be the cap buster.

A successful process for one quarterback and one team might not be the same for another. For instance, what if the Bears struggle coming out of the gates and are still trying to make up lost ground by the midpoint of the season?

Playing Fields might look a lot different to Nagy at that point, especially if playoff hopes are dying or his job is on the line.

The Chiefs had the luxury of Alex Smith and a highly successful season. They also had a head coach who wasn't going anywhere after the season ended. 

It's not really certain Nagy can say the same. All things taken into account, it doesn't seem like the same process is going to be applicable.

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