Stan, an objective fan of the Chicago Bears, can’t sleep. Retired for over a year, and widowed for slightly longer, he spends the late hours of the evenings listening to Chicago sports radio and giving fake interviews to the hosts about his beloved franchise, hoping his endless droning will trick him into slumber. It never works.
Knowing his local dive is open at 7 AM and knowing a few of the fellas who might frequent the tavern at that hour, Stan wanders around the corner. When he enters, only one seat is occupied, by a younger man, eagerly scrolling on his cell phone, adorned in a #1 Justin Field jersey.
Sheila, beautiful and pregnant, is behind the bar. She hasn’t turned on the tavern’s only television because she can’t find the remote.
Sheila: What are you doing here?
Stan: You have coffee on?
Sheila: Yep. Gonna put in a breakfast order from The Greeks, you want anything?
Stan: No, I’m okay.
Sheila (to #1): How about you?
#1: Nah, I’m good.
Stan (sitting beside #1): Good game Sunday, huh?
#1: Yea, they finally got a win.
Stan: The kid quarterback played well too.
#1: (Reluctantly) Sure. (Then) He could actually be a good backup down the road.
Stan: Why do you say that?
#1: Say what?
Stan: Why do you say he could only be a good backup?
#1: Did you see his stats? (#1 holds up his phone to Stan, where he’d be staring at the Tyson Bagent completion chart on Twitter.) He didn’t complete a pass more than 15 yards downfield.
Stan: Did he need to?
Stan: Did he need to?
Sheila puts a cup of coffee in front of Stan.
Sheila: You need milk?
Stan: No, black is fine.
#1: Did he need to what?
Stan: I was listening to the radio last night and I heard a lot of callers say the same thing. “He didn’t throw a pass 15 yards down the field.” But when you run the ball like that, and play defense like that, why did he need to?
#1: He doesn’t have much of an arm is my point.
Stan: He doesn’t?
Stan: How do you know?
#1: Did you see the interception last week?
Stan: I did.
#1: That’s not a QB1.
Stan: Forgive me, as I know you’re much younger than I am, but did you ever see Chad Pennington play?
Stan: Played quarterback smart. Never impressed with the arm. Read the defense. Got the ball out quickly. Let his guys make plays. I couldn’t sleep last night so I decided to look up his stats on the computer. In the two seasons he played 16 games, the full season, he was 10-6 and 11-5. He threw for over 3,000 yards both seasons.
#1: Bagent ain’t Fields.
Stan: No, no, that’s true. Bagent does not have Fields’ arm strength. Bagent doesn’t have Fields’ speed. But that’s conversation for the Combine. That’s not how the actual game is played at the NFL level. The two best quarterbacks I have seen lately, Manning and Brady, they didn’t win football games with their arm strength and speed. They won games by being smarter than the other guys. By being leaders. And they also made sure they were always available on Sundays.
#1: Ain’t Fields’ fault he has to play behind this offensive line?
Stan: Line didn’t look so bad Sunday, did it?
#1: Excuse me?
Stan: I’m just saying that I have heard a lot of the folks on the radio blaming the offensive line but then I see a quarterback get rid of the football on time and suddenly the protection isn’t an issue, is it?
#1: So, you think this is a good offensive line, old man?
Stan: I think Braxton, Darnell and Teven are very good players and the start of something really good. I also think the best offensive line in the league wouldn’t survive a quarterback holding the ball six seconds.
#1: So…you’re one of them. You think they should just start Bagent.
Stan: Now, that’s not what I said. But I don’t understand why three years into one quarterback’s career, we are still making excuses for his shortcomings, and one start into another’s career, we are going out of our way to diminish his successes. If Bagent plays well again Sunday night against the Chargers, what is the rush back to Fields?
#1: Because Fields is QB1.
Stan: Maybe I prefer QB-win.
#1: Do you actually think Bagent is better than Fields?
Stan: No. I don’t. Right now. Right now, I think Fields is the better player because of his experience. But when Fields succeeds, it feels entirely about Fields. When Bagent succeeded Sunday, it felt about the offense. Did you see how many guys got involved? Did you see DJ Moore throwing blocks?
#1: I did, yea, but –
Stan: We all wanted Fields to be the guy, just like we wanted Trubisky and Cutler and Grossman and McNown to be the guy.
#1: I still think he can be the guy.
Stan: If he turned this around now and developed into a top quarterback, he’d be setting a new precedent in the league. It just doesn’t happen this way.
#1: Wouldn’t Bagent be a precedent?
Stan: Of course he would. And even the most optimistic Bears fan doesn’t expect Bagent to be much more than a fun story for a few weeks. So…me? I’m going to enjoy the fun and leave the door open for it to be something a bit more. That’s what we do as fans, right?
#1: You drinking, or sticking with the coffee?
Stan: I’ll have a drink.
Stan: Only if you back it up with an Old Style.
#1: Bear down.
Stan: Bear down, young man.
Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?
Chicago Bears 26, Los Angeles Chargers 24