Briggs, Kreutz debate if Fields should start Week 18


What should the Bears do with Justin Fields? It’s the most pertinent on-field question for a 6-10 team heading to Minnesota to finish out their disappointing season. Should the team get their rookie out, one more time, to get him more valuable reps in a hostile environment? Or should they put him on the shelf to ensure he doesn’t sustain a serious injury going into the offseason?

“No question, I’d put Justin Fields on the field,” said Olin Kreutz on NBC Sports Chicago’s “Football Aftershow” following the Bears’ 29-3 win over the Giants. “I’d put all my young guys out there. I gotta see them play. I want to see what I have on my offensive unit.

“I want to see Fields, especially in that atmosphere, on the road, in a dome. I’d like to see Teven Jenkins on the road, in a dome, silent count, kick set. I think you can learn a lot from that.”

Matt Nagy agrees, and said the plan is to have Fields start, if he’s healthy enough to play. Fields is still recovering from an ankle injury that has kept him from playing the last two weeks.

But for Lance Briggs, the threat of another injury to Fields, who has already gone down with cracked ribs in addition to the ankle injury, is too risky.

“I would play Nick Foles,” Briggs said on the “Football Aftershow.” “I don’t disagree with Olin in the sense that I do want to see my young guys out there playing. For Fields, he’s a little bit different to me, because quarterback is such a vital position, and I don’t want you going out there in this last game, with a coaching staff that’s not going to be here, and get hurt, and in any way, shape or form, delay this next, upcoming coaching staff in preparing him for this next year.”

Kreutz countered that Fields would have plenty of time to get ready for 2022, and if the Bears wanted to protect Fields, there are ways they can try to keep him as safe as possible.

“He’s got eight months to recover from whatever he may have,” Kreutz said.
They’re off anyway. So I’d play him. Put him out there. The concepts, they all translate.

“If you run the Chicago Bears you can say, ‘We put Justin Fields on the field. We want a heavy dose of running the ball.’ You can protect him in different ways. You can protect Teven Jenkins in different ways. You saw Jason Peters get beat early for a sack. What did they do? They started giving him chip help. So that’s part of my problem. Whyー they should play Teven Jenkins. You’re gonna help your 40-year-old tackle and you should be helping your young tackle anyway. Why not get him on the field?”

But would the Bears actually take those precautions?

“If they did what Olin just said, absolutely they should play Justin Fields,” said Briggs. “But the problem is, they don’t do that. They don’t do those things. Matt Nagy does what Matt Nagy wants to do.”

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