I recently heard former Chicago Bears’ offensive lineman Tom Thayer briefly discuss Aaron Rodgers’ uncertain future. He was asked if Rodgers playing in Green Bay in 2021 would alter the Bears’ development plan for Justin Fields. Thayer responded to the question by saying if Rodgers plays for the Packers then Andy Dalton will lead the Bears until Fields is “ready”. If Rodgers leaves Green Bay, then that automatically speeds up Fields’ development and we’ll see him on the gridiron much sooner than we think, according to Thayer.
Whether Tom Thayer is right or wrong isn’t the debate here. The issue I have with this is if it’s true, then the Bears really are hopeless and they should clean house immediately. Let’s look at a couple scenarios and explore why this would be stupid.
Rodgers Stays in Green Bay
The worst case scenario for the Bears is Aaron Rodgers staying put in Green Bay. He has been not only dominant against Chicago but has embarrassed them multiple times over. Rodgers playing for the Packers creates challenges that Matt Nagy has yet to overcome. If this happens and it affects Nagy’s decision to keep Fields on the bench, then the season will go like this:
The Bears begin 2021 against the Rams, Bengals, Browns, and the Lions. Theoretically, the Bears finish these four games at .500 with their two wins against the mediocre Bengals and Lions. That’s no surprise. At this point, we still haven’t seen Justin Fields leading the offense because this result is expected. Why would Nagy rush Fields onto the field? It doesn’t make sense for him to do that and it would be stranger to see Fields play if Dalton is performing well enough to not lose them four straight games.
Rodgers Leaves Green Bay
The first four games of the season do not change because Aaron Rodgers’ uncertain future finally comes to an explosive turning point. The Bears and Packers don’t meet until Week 6 on October 17. Let’s assume the Bears start off the season 2-2 as I mentioned above. Is anything different with your arch rival’s star quarterback out of the picture? Not really. Do we HAVE to see Jordan Love vs. Justin Fields in Week 6? No, we don’t.
Don’t misconstrue my realism for pessimism here. I’m just as excited about Justin Fields’ potential as any Bears fan. However, if Matt Nagy sees an opportunity because the guy he can’t get past is gone, then Nagy’s incompetence is crystal clear. He doesn’t belong leading an NFL team if he’s banking on other team’s failures.
The bottom line here is this: regardless of Aaron Rodgers’ uncertain future, if Andy Dalton plays poorly then we’ll see Justin Fields. Whether it’s Week 2 against the Bengals or the second half of the opening game against the Rams, Fields’ future is out of his control. All he can do is practice, put in the work, and prove that he’s got what it takes to lead an NFL offense. If the incompetent coaching staff for the Chicago Bears don’t utilize potential then that’s on them, not the young quarterback.
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