Rookie Justin Fields’ preseason debut that excited the masses Saturday also intrigued coach Matt Nagy — but not enough to change the Bears’ plan at quarterback. There is no competition for the starting job. Not yet, anyway.
Andy Dalton still will be the Week 1 starter, regardless of what happens in the rest of the preseason, Nagy reiterated Monday. But Fields, who threw for a touchdown, rushed for a touchdown and had a 106.7 passer rating against the Dolphins, will get more snaps with the first-team offense and against the first-team defense.
Asked whether Dalton is still the unchallenged starter, Nagy said: ‘‘Yes, it is the case. Andy had six plays [against the Dolphins on Saturday]. It’s hard to say much good or bad about that with six plays, so we’re going to get him some more snaps this coming preseason game.
‘‘With Justin, we want to be able to see live plays, live situations. He got that [against the Dolphins], and he did a great job. So the only thing he can do is continue doing that, and then we’ve got to make sure that the plan allows us to evaluate how well he does, knowing the circumstances.’’
It’s more than likely Nagy will stick to the plan of having Dalton start in Week 1, especially with a shortened preseason. If the third and final preseason game against the Titans on Aug. 28 becomes a scrimmage of roster-fringe players, as expected, the game Saturday against the Bills at Soldier Field will be Dalton’s and the first-team offense’s final appearance before Week 1.
But this episode might not be over yet. While Nagy wants to be true to the original plan and his promise to Dalton that he will be the Week 1 starter, he also seems open-minded about the possibility that Fields could change his mind — if not by Week 1, then sooner than he originally thought.
For what it’s worth, Nagy isn’t nearly as defensive or resolute as other coaches have been in quarterback-debate situations — not like Lovie Smith (‘‘Rex is our quarterback’’) or even John Fox (‘‘Mike Glennon will be our starting quarterback against Pittsburgh, and we’re going to do everything we can to get him prepared’’).
Whenever Nagy is asked about Fields vs. Dalton, he emphasizes generalities (‘‘The only thing that those guys care about right now is just being great at that position’’) rather than emphatic declarations (‘‘Andy is our quarterback’’).
He wants to be true to Dalton but also seems aware that what happens on the field will dictate when things change.
‘‘Ultimately, whatever is best for the Chicago Bears is what we’re going to do,’’ he said.
Dalton will get more time with the starters Saturday against the Bills after playing only two series — both three-and-outs — against the Dolphins. Fields started slowly but led three scoring drives for 17 unanswered points. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 142 yards without an interception. He also rushed five times for 33 yards, including a 21-yard gain and a nifty eight-yard touchdown on a scramble.
That performance has earned him a better look, which means more first-team reps this week.
‘‘You need to look into that,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘Not so much to see that with his own players — because he gets some of that in practice right now — but it would be good to see what he does versus the first-team defense.’’
As Nagy noted, there are many variables that go into evaluating quarterbacks in the preseason.
‘‘There’s zero scheming going on right now . . . not a lot of tape watched,’’ he said.
And several starters and regulars didn’t play against the Dolphins. But Nagy saw the same game everyone else did.
‘‘The only thing that these guys can do is ball out,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘And I think Justin had a lot of plays and did a great job on those plays that he had.’’