Simms: Bears' Justin Fields should play, but not start in Week 1

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Simms: Why Fields should play, but not start Week 1 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

One of the biggest debates among Bears fans this offseason is when Matt Nagy should insert first-round draft pick Justin Fields into a game. Should Fields sit for the majority of the season, learning behind Andy Dalton a la Patrick Mahomes and Alex Smith? Should the team throw him into the fire right away against the fearsome Rams defense in Week 1? Or something in between? We caught up with Sunday Night Football’s Chris Simms on the latest episode of the Under Center Podcast, and he believes the best way to help Fields improve and develop into a franchise QB, is to get him onto the field ASAP.

“We all look at the Patrick Mahomes thing, and that’s great, I push back against that a little bit,” Simms said. “I’m a little bit of the get him out there, get him playing. You know, being in the arena and playing there is really the only way you can really get better at playing quarterback. Practice is fine and dandy, but as you know, Khalil Mack’s not really trying to rip your head off in practice. So that’s easier for the quarterback. There’s not crowd noise. You know, there’s not the same intensity. So I’m always in favor of throwing the quarterback out there, and getting him used to game reps.”

Simms did not rank Fields highly in his annual list of the top-40 quarterbacks in the NFL, so he also says the Bears’ plan to deploy Fields has to be specifically gameplanned and limited to start.

“A lot of this, of course, is going to be based on how he handles preseason, training camp, all those things,” Simms said. “I would make it very basic in the pass game for Justin Fields. Keep the thoughts simple. Why? One, get him used to the NFL. But two… let’s have him still think about the mechanics and fixing those things, to not lose sight of that to where he’s going, ‘Wait, what play is this that coach just gave me? I’ve got to think about what I’m doing here.’ Then you lose sight of your mechanics and fall apart. That’s where I’d say, from the passing standpoint, let’s keep it simple.

“Every week, this time of the year, I’m already installing two Justin Fields plays, running plays, every week. In my world, the way I look at it, if he’s pretty good in preseason, if he’s handling everything in training camp, I’m not saying I’m starting him Week 1 against the Rams, but he’s getting in the game. He’s getting in the game.”

Simms even laid out an ideal scenario for Fields to get his first game action.

“We score a touchdown on the first drive with Andy Dalton. Ok, great, Andy, you go back out there. Oh, it’s three-and-out next drive. Ok, it’s the third series here, it’s a 7-3 game, let’s throw out Fields here. We got a few gameplan designed runs, they’re not going to know what to prepare for. We got two little, easy gameplan passes for him. We go down and score a touchdown. Hey, maybe you bring him back for another series, let him go? If it fizzles out, ok you go back to Andy Dalton, but to me that would be the approach. Kind of slowly infuse him and get him out there.

“Then if you feel like, ok he’s comfortable and pretty good, bye Andy Dalton. Let’s go Justin Fields. They obviously have two years with the pick of Justin Fields. Get him ready. Get him ready to hit the ground running in 2022, all cylinders go.”

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