Will Justin Fields start in Week 2 vs. the Bengals?

Justin Fields scored a touchdown on his lone carry but played a handful of snaps in Week 1. Will he start in Week 2 against Cincinnati?

The Chicago Bears looked hapless at times on offense in their 2021 NFL season debut. They committed 2 turnovers, averaged fewer than 5 yards per play, and are left with a quarterback quandary. Bears QB Justin Fields played a handful of snaps in his first game as a pro while Andy Dalton struggled.

The offseason’s most questionable query has transformed into the Bears’ biggest blunder to date. Starting Dalton over Fields was a mistake that should have never happened.

Justin Fields showed promise then and now

It’s true that Fields only played 5 snaps in the season opener. But it’s also true that he finished 2-of-2 passing for 10 yards and scored a touchdown on his lone carry. He picked his shot and dove through the tiniest crease in the line to inch Chicago back in the game late in the third quarter.

If small sample sizes aren’t your thing, rewind back to the preseason. Fields completed 61.2% of his throws in three exhibition games, looking more and more comfortable as a passer in each. He made sound decisions and limited mistakes as he adjusted to the speed of the NFL.

The Bears QB was arguably the preseason’s top downfield passer as well, routinely finding big shots to the deep portion of the field. He plays an exciting brand of football that also lends itself to the Bears’ offensive scheme. Essentially, his promise shown through three preseason contests and 5 offensive plays gives Chicago a chance to win.

Fields deserves to be on the field

It’s not how the Bears played overall — it’s how their quarterback performed that leads to more questions. Clearly, the Bears’ offense under head coach Matt Nagy needs an athletic quarterback with sound decision-making processes. Better suited to ring the New York Stock Exchange, Dalton, a savvy veteran signal-caller certainly doesn’t ring the Bears’ bell in that regard.

According to Next Gen Stats, Dalton was unable to complete a pass targeted further than 10 yards downfield. There isn’t much on the docket that proves Dalton is the athletic type to handle a read-option offense, either. He’s rushed for fewer than 100 yards on designed carries in every year of his career and has decreased his scramble yardage each season in Cincinnati.

Fields proved capable of handling the rushing duties from his time at Ohio State and this past preseason. He also showed he can buy time in the pocket and unleash passes out of structure, unlike Dalton.

It all breaks down to state the obvious — Fields deserves to be on the field.

Will Justin Fields start in Week 2?

Well, now we’re to the point, aren’t we? The week will unveil everything as practices commence and game preparation for their matchup with the Bengals begins.

Nagy has been entirely too quick to shut the door on Fields starting throughout the offseason and into the preseason. Odds are he’ll remain that way the day after their season opener.

The Bears are back home in Chicago and will practice on Tuesday following an off day on Monday. Nagy, however, will speak to reporters on Monday following the season-opening loss. It’s likely the question of whether or not Fields will start that will be discussed.

Nagy should start Fields to save his job

Though he’s remained close-lipped about these situations before, there’s a simple fact that rings true — Nagy needs to start Fields to save his job. Even if he does start Fields from Week 2 on, Nagy is likely to remain on the hot seat all year long.

Winning is like water, as it’s the only remedy to cool off a hot seat. Fields is that water that cools Nagy’s hot seat as he gives the Bears a chance to win.

It’s simple math. It’s simple science. Play Fields, and live to coach another day.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. He is also the co-host of Between the Hashes, a college football and NFL draft podcast. You can find his writing here. Follow him on Twitter @CamMellor

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