Despite drafting quarterback Justin Fields with the 11th overall pick, Bears head coach Matt Nagy has emphasized that veteran Andy Dalton will be the Week 1 starter. However, with pressure mounting and Fields impressing in OTAs, it will be tougher for Nagy to not make the switch. Although much of the media and Bears fanbase is convinced that he should start off the bat, here is why Justin Fields should sit out week 1 for the Chicago Bears.
If the Bears were in Chicago and facing a bad team Week 1, it would make more sense to start Fields right away. However, they are playing the Los Angeles Rams on the road. Even more challenging, the game is set for primetime Sunday Night Football.
The Rams defense is arguably the best defense in the NFL. Last season, they allowed the least amount of points and yards. They finished with 53 sacks and 26 takeaways. When the Bears played Los Angeles in Week 7, they were embarrassed as Chicago’s offense was lifeless against the superior team.
Los Angeles’ two stars, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, make this an even tougher matchup for quarterbacks. Both were first team All-Pro last season. Donald in particular would wreck any quarterback making their NFL debut, as he finished second in sacks and quarterback pressures in 2020.
In an ideal scenario, Justin Field’s first start would also be at home. Playing in Chicago would be a much more welcoming experience for the rookie, and it would be good for him to get acquainted with Soldier Field rather than playing in a hostile SoFi Stadium.
Next Week’s Game
After a tough matchup against the Rams, the Bears play the Cincinnati Bengals in Chicago. Cincinnati’s defense does not even compare to Los Angeles.
In 2020, the Bengals allowed the seventh most passing touchdowns and fifth least takeaways. Even better for a rookie quarterback, they totaled the least amount of sacks and lowest quarterback hurries per dropback.
The Bengals lack of pressure is ideal for a quarterback getting used to the NFL. Although Fields played at a high level in college, it is simply more fast paced in the pros. If Fields has to deal with less pressure, it will be an easier adjustment.
Another benefit to a Week 2 debut is the home field advantage. The Bears vs. Bengals game is in Soldier Field at 1:00 in September – a much better environment and likely reasonable weather conditions for the young quarterback.
Unlike Chicago’s Week 1 game against the Rams, playing the Bengals is a favorable matchup for quarterbacks. Cincinnati’s pass rush is weak and they did not do too much to address it in the offseason. Meanwhile, facing Aaron Donald and Los Angeles’ defense is not ideal for an NFL debut. The home field advantage in the game against Cincinnati is also preferable compared to playing on the road in Los Angeles.
For these reasons, it makes sense to sit Justin Fields in Week 1. Many are calling for him to start immediately. However, it is the right decision to consider starting Justin Fields Week 2 instead.
Featured Image Courtesy of John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune
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