For all the hemming and hawing, and long-winded answers that don’t reveal much about Matt Nagy and the Bears’ plan for the quarterback room this season, we did learn a few key details about Justin Fields’ and Andy Dalton’s roles. To start, the starting QB job really is Dalton’s, and Fields is not going to win it between Training Camp and Week 1. Second, Fields truly is the No. 2 QB, and if Dalton gets hurt, it will be Fields thrust into the starting lineup, not Nick Foles.
To get ready, Fields says there will be no days off between the end of mandatory minicamp and training camp.
“For me, if I go a day without getting better in one way, whether it’s mentally, physically, I feel lazy and I feel like I’m not doing enough to accomplish what I accomplish,” Fields said. “For me, personally, I have to do something football related, whether it’s studying my plays for 45 minutes, an hour, or working out, I have to do something to feel like I’m being productive because I love to feel like I’m being productive and I don’t like feeling like I’m being lazy because that’s one thing that I can control is my work ethic. So I like to do something every day just to have that piece of mind knowing that I’m getting better each and every day.”
“This kid is completely locked in and he is going to be— there's literally going to be football going on every day in some way, shape or form,” Nagy said. “But to see Justin develop and digest, the game should slow down and I think Justin would be the first to tell you it's going to be football 24/7. Everything else just go to the side, we don't care about it.”
Specifically, Nagy says they want Fields working on calling plays— truly calling them like he’s giving directions to all the players in the huddle, not simply reading a string of words without any rhythm or reason. To do that, they’re having Fields record himself reading the plays, then sending it into the coaches for critiques.
“Some guys say it, they boondoggle through things and they just decide, you know they just act like they do it,” Nagy said. “There's going to be none of that going on.”
“That'll be some homework for him to make sure that, I know Coach Flip will have him on that and he's working on it. Yeah, talk into it and then we can hear it and tell you ‘No, you're not speaking to the right person during that word right there.’”
Barking orders in the huddle is new to Fields since most of his plays at Ohio State were called in from sidelines, whereas now he gets the play in from his earpiece and then relays the call to his teammates.
“I would say that’s the biggest change for me,” Fields said. “It’s not even the play call. It’s not the reads, none of that stuff, but it’s going to be saying the play in the huddle. Some of our play calls are really long. That’s what I do. I get the script the night before and I just go through them and read them. Once I go through it a few times, boom I have it down like that [Fields snapped here for emphasis].”
Then, once he gets the foundation of all the plays, Fields can dig into the minutiae of each specific play.
“When you have a big base you can really start detailing each and every specific thing on a play and really get to know a play like the back of your hand.”