The Draft is done. Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy filled several roster holes and answered a bunch of looming questions about the upcoming season. But with all those answers, a new, bigger question has emerged: When will Justin Fields be ready to take over as the Bears’ starting quarterback? Fortunately for the team, Nagy has some relevant experience with Patrick Mahomes.
“As everybody has talked about, I went through that in 2017,” Nagy said in the team’s draft wrap-up press conference. “So is it gonna be the same thing? I don’t know. But at least we have some type of blueprint to at least work off of and be able to just kinda use that to start and see where it goes.”
“It's gonna be exciting for (Fields) to just come in here and learn how to be a professional quarterback. It's not gonna happen overnight. He's gonna be able to learn from great coaches and from great players that are gonna be the same room from him. And he knows that. That's the part of Justin is that he's super mature, he's very focused, but he's competitive as hell. Sometimes that pushes people. I think it certainly pushes him, but he does it in a respectful way and he's had a lot of success doing it.”
A critical component in the Chiefs’ blueprint to developing Mahomes was the incumbent QB, Alex Smith. For the Bears, that role will be played by Andy Dalton. While Nagy isn’t as familiar with Dalton as he had been with Smith in Kansas City, Nagy believes Dalton has the makings of a perfect mentor for Fields. For what it’s worth, Nagy said he called Dalton after the Bears moved up to grab Fields, and there’s no hard feelings with his QB1.
“Andy is a hell of a person,” Nagy said. “We've built a great relationship already in the short time that we've been together and I've just got too much respect for him. That's just how we do things around here. I think that I'm really looking forward to seeing him be the best quarterback he could be. And he handled it as a true pro. He's a complete teammate, he's a great person and he's always been that way. That's just kind of where we're at and I appreciate that from him.
“You look at a guy like Andy Dalton and his experience and the time he’s seen, that part is extremely similar to Alex at the same point in their career. Andy has seen every defense made to man, he’s watched a lot of tape. He’s seen a lot of different schemes that people throw at him. He’s been in playoff games. Just, he’s done a lot of things the right way.
“So how great is that for a young rookie to come on in and learn from a guy like him and Nick Foles, and see there’s things that he can take from them, and really put into his toolbox and use to make him be the greatest quarterback he can possibly be.
“There’s no selfishness. We’re all here to help the Chicago Bears win a Super Bowl and we need to do it together. All three of those quarterbacks in that room—Andy, Nick and Justin—are all unbelievable people, and they all have their own experiences and they’re all different, but they’re all going to help each other.”
Ok, so let’s get to brass tax. When will Fields be ready? According to Nagy, the team will know when they know.
“There’s some observations from all of us as coaches every single day, and just like we would tell any quarterback, when you come in here, you do everything you can to be the best quarterback that you could be. Whether it’s in the meeting room or whether it’s in practice, and everything else will take care of itself. All of those guys are going to do it. And then we just got to decide then when we get to that point, how is he developing and how is everybody doing, and really keeping it as honest as possible with all of those guys. Then when the time is right, I promise you every single person will know including Justin when it’s the right time, and that’s naturally how it happens.”