If Matt Nagy switches back to Andy Dalton, it would be a move for the present.
It would place an enormous amount of pressure on Nagy to win games right now, this season.
It would put his job in even more jeopardy than it already has been.
While fans always expect victories, fairly or not, no matter who is under center, the organization paying $10 million to the veteran quarterback certainly would expect results should the coach choose to play that veteran over the future.
If Nagy were to stick with Justin Fields, he could spin 2021 as a rebuilding year. He’d be able to tell ownership they are focusing on the long-term future of the club and that teams don’t typically have success with rookie quarterbacks. (The data on that would overwhelmingly support his argument.) Nagy could even point to last week’s game plan, with the Bears dropping back to pass on just 37.5 percent of their plays, to show the rookie is learning on the fly.
With Dalton, though, there is going to be an expectation that they run an actual, competent NFL offense. And doing so got a lot more difficult last week when David Montgomery had to be helped to the sidelines. It could be said that the Bears need a more accomplished passer without Montgomery and Dalton has completed 73.5 percent of his passes to Fields’ 48.1 percent, with a passer rating 30 points higher. The quick passing game that Dalton executes so well (and Fields not at all) could now be the key to any short-term success.
But as we have seen throughout Dalton’s career, he needs almost as much help to succeed as rookies. If they can’t run the ball well, it doesn’t really matter if Dalton throws a four-yard pass on third-and-10 or if Fields takes a sack.
Being a veteran quarterback who has had success in the league, Dalton is certainly more likely to make the Bears offense better statistically. But would the difference really be enough to matter? Nagy had better hope so because if he plays the 34-year-old over the 22-year-old, he is doing so in the name of winning games. That is what he is announcing to the team, the fans and, most importantly, ownership. The 2021 season would be only about the 2021 season and Nagy’s job performance would be evaluated in that vacuum. The bare minimum requirement for it to be deemed a success would be the playoffs.
So he better get there.
Does anybody believe this team can achieve that?