Justin Fields’ ankle will ultimately determine how this week shakes out, but Bears head coach Matt Nagy said Monday that the hope is Fields will start the season finale Sunday at Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium.
“He’s put a lot of time and effort into this year, into developing and becoming better as a quarterback,” Nagy said. “What this will enable him to do is finish on a high note.”
Fields has missed two consecutive games because of an ankle injury he sustained Dec. 20 against the Minnesota Vikings. Nick Foles started Dec. 26 in a win over Seattle and Andy Dalton started Sunday in a victory against the New York Giants.
Nagy believes every live game rep that Fields can get will be valuable. That includes Sunday, even though the game means little for the Bears, who are out of playoff contention at 6-10.
Asked if he felt Fields was better off for becoming the team’s starter when he did earlier this year, Nagy said “we will see.”
“The playing time that he has had and the way it’s happened, it’s obviously supposed to be that way, and he’s done a great job attacking it mentally, physically,” Nagy said. “And I think everybody can have their own opinion on what they think for Justin. Justin can have his own opinion. But in the end, getting reps for him is definitely going to help him out.”
Nagy could potentially be entering his final week as the head coach of the Bears. Through four seasons, he has a 34-32 record, including a pair of playoff losses. If this is his final week, he will leave Chicago with a winning record no matter what happens Sunday in Minneapolis.
Nagy said his relationship with general manager Ryan Pace hasn’t changed. The two continue to communicate every day.
“Everything’s been exactly the same,” Nagy said. “As you go through these years together, you learn each others strengths and differences. It’s a daily deal. This isn’t something where it’s every other day. For four years, it’s been daily communication.”
Bears management appears ready to play out the regular season before making any determination on Pace and Nagy’s futures. The two-week window that began last week, during which teams can interview coaching candidates, hasn’t swayed the Bears toward firing their coach sooner.
Trick plays: The Bears resembled the 2018 version of themselves in Sunday’s 29-3 win over the Giants. Not just because they won, but because Nagy’s offense had a few tricks up its sleeve.
Running back David Montgomery scored a touchdown in the first quarter after following 6-foot-4, 321-pound defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga’s block into the end zone.
Nagy said that play has been in the playbook all season, but Tonga hasn’t always been active on game days because of depth on the defensive line. On Sunday, the perfect opportunity presented itself.
Later in the game, the Bears tried a trick play out of the wildcat formation with Montgomery faking a run, pulling back and tossing a pass to the end zone. Unfortunately, the Giants intercepted an under-thrown pass from Montgomery (who was a quarterback in high school).
“We’ve had [those plays] in, we just haven’t been able to either get to it, or run it, for whatever reason,” Nagy said. “I think it keeps it upbeat for the guys and they enjoy it. It always brings them back to their high school days.”