LAKE FOREST – Whether he’s working virtually or at Halas Hall, talking in person or on a Zoom call, he knows the question everyone will have from now till probably late in the fall.
When is Justin Fields going to play?
Matt Nagy gets it, having been with teams where young quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round with the expectation that they’ll be the face of the team in the near future. He had that to a degree with Mitchell Trubisky, but he wasn’t there the year which he was drafted.
These questions will be faced by the Bears’ head coach after they moved up to pick Justin Fields with the 11th selection in the NFL Draft in April. They started with rookie camp this weekend in Lake Forest, and naturally it came up.
“I know that for everybody, the biggest question is when that going to happen,” said Nagy. “When you go up to draft a quarterback like Justin, everyone is very excited and they want to know ‘When, When, When?’ and, trust me, we understand that, but we need to make sure that whatever that plan is that we put together, that its the best thing for the Chicago Bears.”
Despite what many people would like, that at the moment remains free agent quarterback Andy Dalton taking the first team snaps throughout this offseason. It was the company line, so to speak, when the signalcaller was signed back in March when Dalton admitted that he’d been told he’d be the No. 1 quarterback in 2021.
Nagy didn’t step away from that line, but he did make it clear that both Fields and veteran quarterback Nick Foles will have the shot to push him for playing time.
“Andy’s the starter. He’s going to get the ‘1″ reps and what we’re telling Justin and Nick to do is to make sure they’re doing everything they can to try to be that guy. That’s that competition part,” said Nagy when asked if Fields would see some of those reps with the top team.
As Fields learns the offense, however, so will Dalton, who is entering Nagy’s system for the first time. Both will have to get up to speed to a scheme that Foles already knows, with the head coach referring to the offseason workouts at Halas Hall as “Class on Grass” during the next few months.
“I think the easiest way for all of us to think of this is that this will all happen for these quarterbacks. They’ll all play how they’re supposed to play, and we’re all going to see what we’re supposed to see, and then it’s our job to as evaluators of who they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are, to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to make the Bears their best team possible.”