The Las Vegas Raiders suffered their first loss on Monday Night Football, and now they have a short week to prepare to turn it around. To make matters just a little bit harder, the Chicago Bears, the Raiders ‘Week 5 opponent, have a new starting quarterback. The 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, rookie Justin Fields, will be the Bears’ new QB1 moving forward.
How did we get here?
The Bears shocked everyone when they traded up to draft the fourth QB off the board in the first round. Fans were ecstatic, and it was a popular opinion to believe Justin Fields was the perfect pick for the Bears. People assumed Fields would take over as starter Week 1.
After an offseason of criticism and nudging from fans and media alike, Chicago’s head coach Matt Nagy insisted on starting veteran QB Andy Dalton instead of Fields. Nagy said he did not promise Dalton he would be the starter. However, Nagy did have this to say in June. “There was no promises but we told him, I specifically told him, ‘You’re our starter.’ So, that’s that.” This, of course, was before the draft.
Nagy stuck to his guns all through training camp and preseason, reiterating time and time again that Dalton would be their starter, and he was. Dalton started Weeks 1 and 2 for the Chicago Bears, and the Bears went 1-1.
In the Bears’ Week 2 loss to the Bengals, QB Andy Dalton suffered a knee injury. It was clear early in Week 3 that Justin Fields would be the starter for them that weekend, but Nagy reiterated, “When Andy Dalton is healthy, he is our starter.” Fans criticized Nagy’s comments but were ecstatic to see their first-round pick hit the field.
Week 3 brought Fields’ first career start, and it wasn’t a pretty one. Whether it was the anticipation, the nerves, or unpreparedness, Fields struggled all four quarters. Fields was sacked a monstrous nine times in one game. He threw 6/20 for 86 yards, and his completion percentage was just 30%.
Week 4 was much more successful for the rookie. Fields went 11/17 and 209 yards in his first win as a starter.
As Las Vegas prepares for Chicago, it was previously up in the air which QB they would face. Dalton had a chance to come back in Week 4, making some think his return was imminent in Week 5. That is, until Matt Nagy finally changed his mind. On Wednesday, Nagy and the Bears announced Justin Fields would be their starting quarterback moving forward, injury or not. Fields says he celebrated by staying home to watch film with his dog. “I’m not just gonna be complacent,” Fields said Wednesday.
What this means for the Raiders
The Raiders are already on a short week, and their game plan may have just changed. Playing a rookie quarterback brings a lot of unknowns. What will most of his plays look like? How much will Fields use his mobility? All of these questions and more will be answered on Sunday for the Raiders.
Justin Fields has his work cut out for him against the Raiders defensive line. Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, Carl Nassib, Darius Philon, and Solomon Thomas have been enormous players for the Raiders this season, and they all have one common goal this weekend: get to the QB and get off the field.
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