It’s hard to make sense of the Bears loading up their offense with the fastest wide receivers they could find, then drawing up routes in a space the size of a sandbox.
But this isn’t the first time Matt Nagy has done something that confused everyone except the opposing defense.
Let’s stop the endless shell game about whose fault it is that the Bears can’t score — it’s always a collective failure so no specific person or position can be blamed — and ditch the empty answers that everyone is tuning out anyway.
Justin Fields is the solution.
Nagy almost sounds like he knows that. He has raved about Fields developing ahead of schedule and making plays that reveal sky-high potential.
But he’s still going with Andy Dalton.
That’s why questions he’s been getting about Fields lately feel like cross-examination in court. And when offensive coordinator Bill Lazor took the mic Wednesday, he testified that Fields is good to go.
“I would have said after the preseason that he’s moving quickly and ready for whatever’s thrown at him,” Lazor said. “I don’t think anything’s changed.”
Then he should be playing more than the five sporadic snaps he got against the Rams. If Fields can handle anything, why not give him a full series — or more — to see if he can jolt the offense?
“I think Matt has probably addressed what his philosophy is on the quarterback position,” Lazor said. “I don’t think there’s any reason for me to answer that.”
There’s not, really. Nagy’s the one who calls the plays, the one entrusted to guide Fields to greatness and the one whose job hinges on proving he can be what the Bears thought they hired in 2018: A brilliant offensive strategist and quarterback expert.
The Bears worried about their offensive line — shocking after general manager Ryan Pace went into training camp with zero experienced left tackles and had to call 39-year-old Jason Peters out of pseudo-retirement — and Nagy’s workaround was to have Dalton get rid of the ball immediately on every play.
He averaged 2.44 seconds from snap to throw, third-fewest in the NFL in Week 1. That’s not enough time for hardly anything to develop, and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin thought the parade of quick passes made Sunday night easy for Rams star cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
“Especially in short spaces and [with] us not running past 10 yards, that fell right into his hand,” Goodwin said.
Not a fun game to watch or play.
“It’s challenging, but you’ve just gotta work with what you’re getting,” Goodwin said. “I don’t control the plays that are called. I don’t control anything but doing my job, and I just do it the best that I know how: fast.”
Fields, with mobility to buy time and the rocket launcher of an arm to strike downfield, would be playing a different game than Dalton.
“You don’t feel the panic. . . . He’s calm in the pocket, and part of that is because he trusts his speed,” Nagy said after Fields’ preseason debut last month. “If there’s a [defender] that’s going to try to make a play, he understands that he can outrun them.”
Isn’t it strange how everything Nagy says about Fields sounds like an endorsement for making him the starter?
Nagy defended his stunted passing attack and Dalton’s middling performance in it by pointing to the Rams’ pass rush. It’s elite, absolutely. But they aren’t the only team with a terrifying pass rush, and some so-so pass rushes might look scary depending on how much the Bears’ offensive line deteriorates.
The point is this problem isn’t going away. The Browns are sending Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney at them next week. The Bears have seven games against teams that were in the top 10 in sacks last season.
Those are going to look a lot like the Rams game if Nagy doesn’t switch to Fields.