Matt Nagy happy with Justin Fields’ performance in limited debut vs. Rams

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The Chicago Bears have a well-documented plan for rookie quarterback Justin Fields. Coach Matt Nagy has cited the Patrick Mahomes model from his time with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017 when Mahomes sat behind veteran Alex Smith for all but one game of his rookie season.

Unfortunately, the 2021 Bears aren’t the 2017 Chiefs. Andy Dalton isn’t the same quarterback Smith was that year, and Chicago’s offensive structure isn’t nearly as developed as Andy Reid had in Kansas City.

In Sunday night’s opener against the Rams, the Bears drifted away from the Chiefs’ model by featuring Fields in a few designed plays. Fields threw two passes (both completions) and ran for a three-yard touchdown.

Mahomes didn’t see a single snap until Week 17 of his rookie year.

The comparisons between the Bears and 2017 Chiefs were never fair, and after seeing Nagy’s plan in action in Week 1, it’s clear his plan isn’t a carbon copy of Mahomes’.

The question remains whether Nagy’s approach to his rookie quarterback is the right one. Fields’ three-yard touchdown run wasn’t a routine scoot; yet, he made it look simple. In a limited sample size, he showed off his live arm. He can make throws Dalton simply can’t.

But was it enough to earn more snaps?

“The times that (Fields) got in there, he did well, being his first game,” Nagy told reporters after the game. “Andy did a good job, too, of helping extend some of those drives and us going through that whole deal of how that’s going to go. We’ll continue to keep growing with that stuff and see what we want to do with that.”

The Bears have no choice but to continue involving Fields in the offense more and more each week. His three meaningful reps in Week 1 aren’t necessarily a sign of his future workload. Sunday night was a blowout and Nagy admitted afterward that Fields may have played more if the game was closer.

Chicago knows Fields is a weapon they’ll need to win games that are within reach. It’s possible they decided to keep him under wraps in a blowout loss for a competitive advantage moving forward. Why give opposing coordinators a glimpse at what he does well when it won’t impact the outcome of the game?

Still, Nagy can’t waste much time turning the offense over to Fields for good. We all know it’s just a matter of time, but the longer Nagy waits, the faster the 2021 season will slip away.