Justin Fields’ health is Matt Nagy’s top priority
With two games to go and nothing at stake, Nagy isn’t going to take any chances after Fields missed last week’s game with an ankle injury. “We want him to be extremely healthy,” Nagy said.
Wide receiver Darnell Mooney wants to see Justin Fields play, too.
“I want him out there,” Mooney said. “But I also want him to be healthy. If he’s not healthy, I don’t want him going out there and injuring himself just trying to fight through it when he’s not 100% or at least 90% healthy.”
That’s pretty much the Bears’ approach heading into the game Sunday against the Giants at Soldier Field. Fields has started 10 games in his rookie season but missed the game against the Seahawks with an ankle injury. Backup quarterback Andy Dalton didn’t play because of a groin injury. Third-stringer Nick Foles started and led the Bears to a come-from-behind 25-24 victory at Lumen Field.
The healthiest quarterback will play, coach Matt Nagy said.
“Medical is gonna take over this thing,” Nagy said, “and it’s gonna dictate where they’re at. Whoever it is, they’ve got to be ready to go.”
Fields started against the Packers on Dec. 12 at Lambeau Field when he was technically healthy but still recovering from broken ribs he suffered against the Ravens two weeks earlier.
But with the 5-10 Bears eliminated from playoff contention, Nagy isn’t likely to take any chances.
“He wants to be out there for his teammates,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘He wants to help every way he can to continue to finish the season strong. He’s grown in a lot of ways. Every rep he can get at this point, with how it has gone, will be valuable for him for the rest of his experiences. But we want him to be extremely healthy.”
Nagy said he would wait to see how healthy Fields and Dalton were in practice before determining a starter against the Giants. Fields was limited and Dalton had full participation in practice Wednesday.
Fields obviously would be the people’s choice. He struggled against the Packers (70.8 passer rating) and was OK against the Vikings (96.6, but with an inconsequential last-play touchdown pass) before missing the game in Seattle. But he’s still the future at quarterback.
Though Fields likely will be in a different offense under a new coaching staff next season, every snap figures to benefit him. While the players are playing for pride, seeing Fields make any progress is about all Bears fans have to keep their interest in the last two games.
But at this point, Fields’ health is No. 1. He has been injured three times this season — against the Raiders (Dalton replaced him for three snaps), against the Ravens and against the Vikings (he didn’t miss a play).
Nagy probably has a pretty good idea that he won’t be coaching the Bears next season. But the last thing he needs is for Fields to aggravate an injury in games that have no consequence for the Bears’ season.
“The thing with Justin is that he’s super-tough,” Nagy said. “So we have to balance that. We’ve got to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself because he’s trying to tough [it out]. But he’s also smart, and he gets it that we have his best interests [in mind].’’
After Foles’ performance against the Sea-hawks, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to let him finish out this season. After sitting all season, he could use the opportunity to remind teams he’s still got it. And at this point, he probably gives the Bears the best chance to win.