Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy recently announced that Justin Fields would be the starting quarterback going forwards. That happened just a few days after declaring that Andy Dalton would keep the job when he returned. On this week’s More Than Football podcast, PFN’s Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo and host Brett Yarris are joined by former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum to discuss the quarterback controversy in Chicago.
To watch this episode of More Than Football, tune in to the video player above. You can also listen to the podcast in the player at the end of the article or on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Matt Nagy’s decision is hampered by past experiences
To Wingo, Nagy’s sudden change of heart says that the new direction wasn’t actually his decision. Tannenbaum thinks that scenario might be at play. However, the real problems might be more fundamental than that.
Tannenbaum believes Nagy came into this situation “with a dogmatic approach.” When Nagy was with the Kansas City Chiefs, he saw Patrick Mahomes sit behind Alex Smith. Tannenbaum thinks Nagy wanted to apply the same theory in Chicago.
Unfortunately, he failed to recognize the differences between the two situations. For example, as Wingo points out, Andy Dalton is not Alex Smith.
Whether someone else convinced Nagy to make the conclusion — either his players or someone higher up in the organization — or he came to it on his own, he is now being forced to recognize the flaws in his mindset.
The decision regarding starting quarterbacks must be a collaborative one
Tannenbaum recognizes that the conversation between a general manager and head coach about starting a rookie is different for QBs than for other players. When he worked with the New York Jets, he and Rex Ryan drafted Mark Sanchez. They agreed that Sanchez was their quarterback from Day 1.
In cases of disagreements, Tannenbaum suggests that front offices make decisions on data. Back when Tannenbaum worked with the Jets, they had a saying:
“In God, we trust. For everybody else, we need data.”
If he needed to decide between Dalton and Fields, he would sit Nagy down and go through every snap of the two quarterbacks’ careers, both in college and the NFL.
However long it took, they would sit there until they collectively came to an answer based on the facts. Hopefully, Chicago’s scenario occurred under similarly rigorous circumstances.