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How QB Switch Really Happened Is a Mystery

Analysis: Matt Nagy's 180-degree turn leaves it open for all kinds of guesses as to why Justin Fields is their starter now, but the important thing is he will be throwing the passes against the Raiders.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall in Halas Hall the past few days.

All along Matt Nagy has insisted his starting quarterback was Andy Dalton, from April through Monday, and then suddenly on Wednesday it's, "OK, now it's Justin Fields."

His statement about Fields starting fit with what he had previously said about as well as a left shoe fits on your right foot.

Only 48 hours earlier he had said:

"When we work through this whole process, we gotta see where Andy's at health-wise these next two days. That's important. Like we said this whole time, when Andy's healthy, when he's healthy, he's our starter. He's the 1. Justin's the 2. Nick (Foles is) the 3.

"What's been great about these last couple weeks is Justin's had the opportunity to play and get significant snaps and he's grown from it. Now we just gotta see, where's Andy's health at? Honestly the next two days will be revealing to us. Once that happens and we get a feel for where he is, then we as coaches decide, OK where are we at right now? How do we feel he is percentage-wise to be able to go into that game as the starter?"

It's zero percent, and it has nothing to do with his health because he returned Wednesday and put in a full practice but Fields was anointed the starter going forward.

"There are so many things that went into this, and I think that for again, for Andy, let's not forget how Andy was playing," Nagy said Wednesday.

His memory was pretty selective if he thought Dalton had played well for a game and a half before his injured knee.

"We had some drives that were going on against a Rams defense that first week where they really try not to give you a lot of deep shots," Nagy acknowledged, showing his memory really is better than his play calling. "And then the second game against Cincy, Andy was moving the ball pretty well, got a touchdown and was going down for another one and got hurt."

Actually, Dalton left the game after a run to the Bengals' 37 from near midfield but was injured on a scramble in Bears territory. It was nowhere near "going down for another one," but let's not nitpick. Dave Wannstedt used to say Erik Kramer had the team "on our 35 goin' in," and he never did get those other 65 yards.

But let's not nitpick. The important aspect of all this is Nagy finally got it right.

Or did he? Such a dramatic shift from what he was saying Monday to Wednesday almost sounds like some case of intervention.

Did Ryan Pace say it's about time to start him? Did George McCaskey put in a phone call down to Nagy's office about it. Did Ted Phillips come and "collaborate" on it. Did the powers above tell Pace, and he told Nagy?

All Nagy said about input was "...and so there's a lot of communication that goes on between a lot of people."

It must have been pretty convincing communication because they had seen the game film by Monday's 10 a.m. presser and Nagy was talking like healthy Dalton was still starting.

Nagy was asked if he's committed to a rookie quarterback now despite the well known fact rookie quarterbacks struggle and frequently lose games more experienced passers might win. 

It's a logical question because Nagy's job could be on the line with losses.

"I'm worried about doing what's best for the Bears, and that's the only thing that matters," Nagy said. "Everything that I just said here this morning is the why. That's it. That's the only thing that matters."

What is certain is Fields wouldn't have gotten this shot unless Sunday's 11 of 17 effort for 209 yards occurred. He had five explosive passes, or passes of 20 yards or longer. That was five more than they had all season to that point and the other single solitary pass of 20 or longer they had before the Lions game was also thrown by Fields.

"It was big because that really helps the run game, and we weren't real big on that when you look at the hit chart, right?" Nagy said. "The passing chart of where those were coming from, they weren't happening much.

"Even if you don't complete them, there are some that are not completed, you're helping your run game out."

Nagy actually wanted to help his running game—that might be the most difficult thing in all of this to believe.

Nagy credited offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for the play calls, and going deep to loosen up the defense. Then the old Nagy ego came into play. 

We all had to know what it was like for him not to be involved in play calling.

"Like, during the game, for me it was the most connected that I've been to all three phases, that I really felt like, that felt good," Nagy said.

Nice, but no one really asked this.

Fields saw the impact of going from under center with two tight ends, and then throwing deep more often.

"That makes my job way easier, of course," Fields said. "When the defense sees that we're in that kind of personnel, they’re most likely thinking run. So it definitely sets up the play-action well. It gets the passing game going a lot."

Nagy continued praising the open communication going on, which all leads to more  George and Ted nervousness

"So No. 1, that's the beauty of the way we've been here in the last four years is that there's always open, constant communication," Nagy said. "And so obviously in this situation there's been, and for me to be able to once we get as a staff internally, we discuss and talk through this stuff on a lot of stuff. We do it together."

In the end now, none of it matters. They have it right regardless of who decided it or wants credit.

Justin Fields' era officially has begun and no meetings or collaboration will change it. He has the chance to be the great deodorizer for a passing attack that had become the arm pit of the NFC.

Now everyone can settle down and worry about football instead of when the head coach is going to come to his senses, even if it appears someone else did it for him.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven