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Growth Apparent Despite Mistakes Says Nagy

Bears coach Matt Nagy took issue with the characterization that QB Justin Fields is experiencing slow growth in the developmental process.

While Justin Fields struggled through his worst game in terms of turnovers Sunday, there is no indication of the Bears losing confidence in their rookie quarterback.

In fact, after coach Matt Nagy announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday he also put in a vote of confidence for Fields after a three-interception game in which he also lost two fumbles. 

So don't expect the Bears to turn back to veteran Andy Dalton at quarterback.

Nagy immediately went on alert when it was suggested Fields wasn't growing fast enough during a Zoom conference call with media.

"I would say I don't agree with that," Nagy said. "I think that he's done a really good job at growing. And when you watch the tape last night, the result of not scoring points and having turnovers and what happened in that game, it can certainly feel that way for a lot of different reasons.

"But when you watch it, you see there's a lot more to it that goes into it, and we are all involved in that."

Nagy's quick defense of Fields is understandable. It's possible his job security involves development of the former Ohio State player but also the decision to make him the No. 1 quarterback after Dalton came back from a knee injury was Nagy's.

Until Sunday, Fields was the only rookie quarterback this year with two wins as the starter but New England's Mac Jones has now reached that level.

Fields has two touchdown passes, six interceptions and a 61.8 passer rating for five starts and seven appearances.

"We all knew there was going to be growing pains, that's with every single rookie quarterback that has ever played in the history of this game, that has happened," Nagy said. "And so what is important for us to understand is learning how to do things as a NFL quarterback and some of these times that we have whether good or bad, he's going to use those to make him a hell of a quarterback in this league for a long time."

The Bears play San Francisco Sunday at Soldier Field. When Fields struggled against Cleveland in his first start, he bounced back with two better games against Detroit and Las Vegas.

"As a rookie who hasn't seen as many defenses or has had as many snaps as some people that had played in that game yesterday or some coaches that have coached, we need to make sure we do everything that we can to give him the greatest opportunity to succeed," Nagy said. "That's what we are going to do. And you (media) guys know what type of resiliency Justin has and what type of resiliency our team has.

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"And when you have that, and when you have bad losses like yesterday and a bad loss like Cleveland, you have to make sure you fix it. And that's the opportunity and the chance we get to get back on track here against San Francisco and the start to score more points."

One of the key turnovers was the interception Fields threw after he thought he heard on the helmet headset that there were 12 Buccaneers on the field. Fields thought he had a free play and then wide receiver Allen Robinson slipped while Fields was also under pressure before the throw. It brought back memories of the Packers game a week earlier when Fields threw an interception on what he thought was a free play because a Packers offsides that wasn't called.

In this instance, the Buccaneers didn't have 12 men on the field.

"The one when there wasn't 12 men on the field, right, as he snapped it," Nagy said. "That's the communication process among us as coaches and him as the player, as to that part.

"Once you get that part down, now it's extending the play. Essentially, you get to a point where you throw the ball away or you run or something. Those are learning tools for him."

Nagy called another interception on a throw down the sideline to Robinson simply a case of poor timing on a play with a defender in good coverage.

"When those two guys get together and start watching that exact situation—that play and that route versus that defense—they'll fix that and they'll be able to make sure that that doesn't happen," Nagy said. "In worst case, it would be an incompletion.

"Those are probably some of the stuff that we're going through, that we need to make sure, ‘OK, hey, are we doing everything we can as coaches and are they doing everything they can as players.' And that's where we've got to say, 'OK, is it best for us to do that, or we gotta try something else?' "

After the game, Fields seemed more upset than flustered or confused.

"There was a lot of things, so I mean it's not just one thing," he said. "It's a bunch of things. I'm just going to leave it at that."

Players after the game say they expect Fields will come back from such a devastating defeat more determined, based on their time around him.

"I've been in games like this so I'm talking to him on the sidelines just seeing where his head is at," running back Khalil Herbert said. "He had the same mentality going into the huddle, trying to put drives together to go down and score points."

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