For reasons that honestly are beyond my comprehension at this point, some Bears fans still want to believe quarterback Justin Fields should be and will be the Week 1 starter.
But there is no mystery left. Short of injuries making Fields the only option, it isn’t happening.
For starters, coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace already have told us it isn’t happening. You can ignore them if you like, but they’re the only two with an actual vote.
Most of the doubters either forget or choose to ignore the fact that it was Nagy who was responsible for overseeing the rookie indoctrination of Patrick Mahomes, who sat his butt on the bench that first year with the Chiefs until Week 17.
Nagy was asked Wednesday if he thought sitting Mahomes worked.
“Yeah, I think it did. I think Patrick would probably tell you the same thing,” Nagy said. “These guys are all competitive. But in that scenario in ’17, when you ask Patrick, for him to be able to develop like that and learn from [starting QB] Alex [Smith] and grow, he would probably tell you it was a pretty good thing to happen to him.”
So if all of that is what Nagy believes, and with Mahomes becoming the best young quarterback in football, why would he do anything different with Fields?
Andy Dalton, if healthy, will be the starter in the opener.
The only real quarterback mystery with the Bears right now is: What’s up with Nick Foles? And who will be No. 2 on the depth chart?
Nagy had an explanation when Foles was absent from the first week of organized team activities.
“It’s all voluntary, but just so everyone is aware, he’s been here every day,” Nagy said. “He’s just dealing with some personal things right now, and he wasn’t here.”
One would hope those personal things aren’t being upset about the arrival of Dalton and Fields.
Nagy indicated he hoped and thought Foles would be back this week, but when he was absent again Wednesday, Nagy changed the timeline.
“Nick, obviously, hopefully, he’ll be back next week,” Nagy said.
That caught my attention because next week’s minicamp is not voluntary. So why “hopefully?” Why wouldn’t Foles be there?
Could it be Foles is unhappy because, as Nagy told us last week, “I’ve talked to all three of them, and as we go into these practices, as we got into training camp, knowing how valuable it is for Justin to get his reps and then Andy obviously to get his reps, too.
“Nick and I have talked, and he understands that going into this that Justin is going to get the (No.) 2 reps, and that Nick’s going to get the 3 reps. And Nick is a true pro and understands it.”
Does he really?
This is where we have to start parsing things a bit to try to understand.
Obviously, Foles knows the offense and has started games with it, so he doesn’t need the reps as much as Dalton and Fields do.
The fact that Fields will get the second-team reps in the offseason and training camp doesn’t mean he’s the No. 2 quarterback. It means the only way to develop and prepare him is to get him reps.
It’s hard to believe based on the current plan with Dalton and Fields – and Nagy confirming he believes in it – that if Dalton were injured that it wouldn’t be Foles, whom many call the best backup QB in the game, who gets the start over Fields in Week 1.
But it also feels unlike Foles to be absent right now.
For those who think the Bears are trying to move Foles, it appears they have about $8.5 million in cap space now that we’re post-June 1, but roughly half of that will go to the contracts of Fields and Teven Jenkins when officially signed.
There still is $14.3 million in dead cap money on Foles’ deal. While they wouldn’t have to eat all of it this year, cutting or trading him would put them back over the cap. That’s if they had a trade partner.
It doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere, and he does still have value to the Bears should Dalton get nicked early.
So why would there even be a chance he’d miss a mandatory minicamp? And what exactly is up with Foles?
That’s the Bears QB mystery right now.
• Hub Arkush is a Shaw Media correspondent.