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Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy liked what he saw from rookie quarterback Justin Fields during his NFL preseason debut against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday.
When asked to comment on Fields’ performance in the 20-13 win, Nagy told reporters: “The one thing that you felt from Justin … was that he was extremely calm the whole time.”
Veteran Andy Dalton got the start under center for Chicago, but Fields replaced him in the second quarter and saw two quarters of action.
Fields went 14-of-20 for 142 yards and one touchdown, rushing for 33 yards and one score. He also brought the Bears back from a 13-0 deficit and exited the game with Chicago leading 17-13.
On the heels of an impressive debut, Fields agreed with Nagy’s assessment, saying: “I was as calm as could be.”
The first touchdown of Fields’ NFL career came early in the third quarter on an eight-yard scamper to pull the Bears within three:
Chicago took the lead on its next drive when Fields took advantage of a blown coverage and found tight end Jesse James for a 30-yard touchdown:
There was palpable excitement among Bears fans when Fields entered the game Saturday on the heels of Chicago making him the No. 11 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
The Bears haven’t had much success at quarterback throughout their history. In fact, they have never had a player throw for more than 4,000 yards in a single season.
There is seemingly a belief among the Bears faithful that Fields can break that trend, and he made a great first impression.
Despite that, the starting job is still Dalton’s to lose, although Nagy seemed to acknowledge that it isn’t set in stone.
When reporters asked him after the game how Fields can take the lead in the quarterback race, Nagy said: “Just worry about tomorrow. And just create competition and be the best quarterback you can be.”
The Bears reached the playoffs last season with Mitchell Trubisky as their quarterback, but they weren’t particularly competitive in their NFC Wild Card Round loss to the New Orleans Saints, and they let Trubisky walk in free agency.
It was a calculated risk since there was no guarantee Chicago would be able to find its quarterback of the future in the draft, but it benefited from Fields falling and traded up to select him.
Not only does Fields look like the Bears’ future at the position, but he could also be their quarterback of the present if he continues to play at the level he displayed Saturday.