Justin Fields was never going to learn anything from Sunday’s ugly loss. Why was he playing in the second half?

Putting in Andy Dalton against the Buccaneers would have been the right move.

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Quarterback Justin Fields slides with the ball in the second quarter of the Bears’ 38-3 loss to Tampa Bay.

Quarterback Justin Fields slides with the ball in the second quarter of the Bears’ 38-3 loss to Tampa Bay.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It’s not a lot of fun when you know how the movie is going to end before it even starts. And how the middle part will go. Also the beginning.

What was on display Sunday was a Halloween horror flick in which the bloodshed was predictable and the blood-spatter pattern bore an eerie resemblance to Justin Fields’ stunned face. Whatever redeeming value there was to any of this must have ended up on the cutting-room floor. The Bears went to Tampa Bay hoping for an upset against the defending Super Bowl champions and left with an embarrassing 38-3 loss.

If you want to call for the heads of coach Matt Nagy, general manager Ryan Pace and chairman George McCaskey, feel free. Just know that your outrage was predetermined, too, built into the day’s itinerary as much as your halftime meal was. The Buccaneers are too good, and the Bears aren’t.

Monday will dawn, and all the guilty parties will still be employed. Trust me on this. If that sounds defeatist, sounds like a dirge, then you must be a Bears fan with a working set of ears and a familiarity with the McCaskey family. 

The tone of the game was set on the first pass play of the game, with Tampa Bay’s Antoine Winfield almost separating Fields’ head from his body on a blitz. Fields would go on to throw an interception and lose a fumble in two of the next three possessions, leading to two Bucs touchdowns and a 21-0 deficit. The score was 35-3 at halftime. Fields had more fumbles in the first half (three) than friends in the world (zero, judging by the look on his face).

He would finish with three interceptions and a 44.3 passer rating.

Rather than show up for the game, the safer bet for him and the Bears would have been to pick up a hitchhiker who was carrying a chainsaw and had a hook for a hand, then drive home.

Fields wasn’t going to learn anything in this kind of game, unless it was how to lose brain cells in bulk or how to make one’s knee touch the back of one’s head. The smart move would have been to bench him in the second half with his limbs intact. Throw Andy Dalton to the wolves, something they should have been doing all along. If not him, then Nick Foles. The best place for Fields this season was the sideline.

But, no. The Bears were going to stick to the plan Sunday.

“It didn’t even cross my mind to go the other way,’’ Nagy said.

If they care at all about Fields’ health and well-being, they should have him hand off to a running back on every play. Let me make this easy for Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Your offense is not good when it tries to pass. That observation is based almost entirely on an offensive line that doesn’t have the foggiest idea how to pass block. Even before injuries and COVID-19 issues hit the O-line, it was so.

Pace should never be in charge of drafting an offensive lineman again. Let somebody else do it. Anybody. A guy feeding the parking meter. A woman picking up after her dog. This is predicated, again, on the very dark suspicion that the McCaskeys, deathly afraid of change, will retain Pace’s services after the season.

With the Bears missing defensive linemen Akiem Hicks (groin injury) and Robert Quinn (COVID-19), it was all but given that Bucs quarterback Tom Brady was going to pick them apart. He did, throwing four touchdown passes.

In the first quarter, Brady threw his 600th career touchdown pass. He’s the only NFL quarterback in history to do that. Have the Bears had 600 quarterbacks in their history? Probably.

I tap my foot impatiently when the TV announcers, having met with the coaches and players during the week, go through their talking points early in a game. It’s free PR for the teams. On Sunday, we heard all about how Fields had made progress the previous few weeks, how good Roquan Smith is and blah followed by blah followed by blah. Then reality set in. The afternoon was a disaster.

Afterward, Nagy stressed how close his players have gotten to each other. This is his go-to approach whenever there’s the possibility of finger-pointing after a tough loss. Finger-pointing is a first cousin of mutiny, the sworn enemy of a coach on the hot seat. I won’t bore you with the quotes. You’ve heard them before.

The Bears and Fields are going to need a toilet with the power of a jetliner toilet to flush the memory of this game.

“Having that mindset that nothing can break us,’’ Fields said.

Sure looked as if the Buccaneers did.

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