October 16, 2021


Hub Arkush: Justin Fields is starting, but what happened to change Matt Nagy’s mind?

Matt Nagy’s announcement Wednesday sent shock waves throughout the Chicago area and beyond – news that a clear majority of fans, analysts and talking heads celebrated when it broke, but certainly weren’t expecting.

So what changed between Monday morning when Nagy told us Andy Dalton would remain the starter, Justin Fields the backup and Nick Foles the No. 3?

“So if he’s healthy (Dalton), if he’s good to go, then Dalton is the starter,” a reporter asked Monday.

“Correct,” Nagy confirmed.

Then came this roughly for 48 hours later:

“I told you the last couple weeks we’ve had some good conversations internally,” Nagy said. “Continuing that process this week, it’s led to making the decision to move with Justin as the starter.

“And so I’ve always said from the beginning to everybody in here to our players, coaches, to (the media) when you ask, is that we’ll know, and he’s done everything to show us that he’s ready for this opportunity.”

Whether or not it’s the right decision, of course, is yet to be known. That will be discovered on the field over weeks, months and possibly years.

Either way, the Justin Fields era has officially begun.

What is immediately intriguing is what changed without anyone taking the field to plunge a stake through the heart of the Bears’ “plan?”

Even more curious, just whose decision was it? Ans what does it mean to the Nagy, Ryan Pace era going forward?

Here is what Nagy said about that Wednesday:

“Well, I think the biggest thing is, again the beauty of how we do things and this is what I love about our building and our staff, and I told you even with the players last week, we talk through things,” Nagy said. “And things are fluid. Things are always fluid, really, in any sport. We discuss things.

“And I think after this past weekend with Justin and the growth that we saw, it really — the discussions that we had was to be able to go in this direction. And so that’s where some of the change was over those last couple of weeks.”

We are accustomed at this point to Nagy giving long, winding responses to questions intended to sound like he’s taking us inside when in fact he says little or nothing about the question that was asked.

The coach and his staff had already spent hours reviewing tape of Sunday’s win over the Lions when he assured us Monday that Dalton was absolutely still No. 1.

Apparently “discussions” are what changed his mind and caused him to trash the “plan” that we were lead to believe was the bible on Bears QBs, until it wasn’t.

I have absolutely no issues with the change. It has always been a binary choice with no certain answers, and hopefully he’s gotten it right.

But I am fascinated by the “why” Nagy did a 180 between Monday and Wednesday.

What does it say about his and Pace’s futures with the Bears?

What was the magic in such a radical flip-flop Wednesday? If it was on the tape, then he knew that Monday morning.

Did someone above Nagy on the organizational chart – there are only two folks, and you know who they are – tell him this is the way it should and is going to be?

Why announce it Wednesday and give the Raiders all week to prepare all kinds of problems for the kid? Will their futures now be weighed against Fields’ development as opposed to wins and losses?

Or did Nagy just bow to outside pressure?

Is he moving from a position of strength or desperation?

What will be the reaction in the locker room to the, “Just kidding, I don’t need you any more,” that he just dumped on Dalton?

Or was he just fibbing to us all along?

Nagy has succeeded in re-energizing the buzz around his team on the outside, but it’s hard to see how he’s lengthened the distance between himself and the chopping block.

It’s quite the tangled web he’s woven.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media