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Everything Is Different Now for Bears

The Justin Fields era officially arriving now alters Matt Nagy's plan, the offense, the way teammates follow their leader and so many other things.

The training wheels have come off, so to speak.

It's earlier than planned, but it has arrived. As the Bears play the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday, no longer is their use of Justin Fields tethered to a support pole named Andy Dalton. 

The Bears have seen plenty of Fields so far—even more than they did of Dalton in the first four games—and now it's officially the rookie's time to be known as their starter. 

There is no turning back as the Bears make a third attempt to avoid an embarrassing defeat on the road while establishing offensive continuity.

"Now, there's also gonna be ebb and flow with this process," Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "We get that. 

"We all understand that, but I think Justin has shown that he has the ability to also handle that."

Actually it's going to be more like a roller coaster because an ebb and flow indicates normal, recurring, predictable patterns. 

The Bears will be spending the rest of this season looking for consistency from Fields because it's what rookies so often lack, and also what their offense itself has lacked. 

Using rookie quarterbacks as starters requires patience, and usually teams with playoff aspirations don't have to put up with this sort of challenge.

"We all went through a pretty rough game in Cleveland and I love the way that he bounced back, and so this is about everybody, this is all of us doing this together," Nagy said.

The game in Cleveland showed Fields wasn't prepared to step in and play within the Matt Nagy style of offense, using five-man pass protection and reading the full field thoroughly in a split second. Fields is in only his fifth game and third start as he carries a starter designation into Allegiant Stadium for the first time. 

On the surface, little has changed for him other than the fact he doesn't have to look over his shoulder for when Dalton's knee has healed. Improving is his goal.

"You just have to understand that there's going to be mistakes made," Fields said. "You just have to learn from those mistakes and try not to make those mistakes twice."

Fields' play last week indicated fewer mistakes and greater growth in only a few short weeks. 

The Bears need it to continue against a Raiders defense looking more susceptible against the run so far than against the pass, as it ranks fifth in fewest net yards allowed per throw but 23rd against the run.

"I'm just going through my reads," Fields said. "If it's there, it's there. But I'm not gonna try to force it downfield if it's not there."

If there are real differences for Fields now from when he made his first start they are the commitment from coaches to get him game plans suited to his skills and his mandate as unquestioned team leader.

The offense changed last week with Bill Lazor calling plays and presumably this is the way it will continue, although the Bears have said nothing to indicate this. Nagy wanted an offensive identity, and with Lazor targeting plays to Fields' strengths it appears one is forming even if it isn't the one Nagy would have liked.

The running game could be more difficult to establish without injured David Montgomery against the Raiders and possibly a few more opponents but Damien Williams appears the capable fill-in.

"Well, obviously Justin's threat with being able to get out of the pocket and run the ball is special," Bears tight end Cole Kmet said. "And I think if we're able to solidify a run game, and Justin, his ability to stretch the field also with his arm, those are two things that kind of go hand in hand with one another and create a pretty dynamic passing attack, along with a really solid run game." 

Teammates now have to get used to the Fields style since he has the mandate as their unquestioned leader. 

He's not pulling punches even if he has to criticize someone on the field.

"When you're correcting somebody or you're trying to tell something to your teammate, you can't really take their feelings into account," Fields said. "That doesn't matter. 

"Winning matters."

It's a bold, new Bears era even if it isn't the one Nagy imagined or at this point look the way he intended.

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