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Bill Lazor; The Plan To Develop Justin Fields


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It's a fine line Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor must walk, although to hear him  more will be made of the Andy Dalton and Justin Fields quarterback competition than is necessary.

Lazor is good at reducing pressure situations.

The reason he's walking on a bit of an edge is on one side is the quarterback he has known since he started working with him in 2016 with the Cincinnati Bengals, Dalton. On the other side is the future and salvation of a franchise wandering for more than three decades, Fields.

 

An offensive coordinator can't take sides, and Lazor has an interesting yet simple way to address this situation.

"You're going to think I'm making this up but I'm 100% serious when I say this — I'm going to treat it like I was coaching the eighth grade team," Lazor said. "What's the best thing for the team? At the same time you try and get every guy as good as he can possibly be. But what is the very best thing to win games?

"It is real easy in our world to lose that perspective and I've worked for some people and one who would remind us, 'what would you do if you were coaching the eighth grade team?' It really should be that simple. I know it doesn't seem that way all the time but what is the best way for us to win games and that's why we are where we are. That's why we're fired up. It's a matter of perspective."

Interpret this any way you will, but does a coaching staff get fired up to coach a veteran quarterback who they've worked with in the past? Lazor elaborated.

 

"In our mind as coaches when we signed Andy Dalton, it was like a first-round draft pick," Lazor said. "And last year when we traded for Nick (Foles), to us that was a first-round draft pick.

"We're excited about the guys that we have. We're going to do the best thing for the team and I think when you see them walk out and watch practice, it will be clear, that's our goal. I'm not real hard to figure out. That's how I roll."

Coach Matt Nagy made an appearance Tuesday on the Rich Eisen Show and sounded a lot like Lazor.

"We will know," Nagy said. "If Justin gives us a better chance to win than Andy does then, that's something that we, and myself as the head coach who makes the decision, will have to make that choice," Nagy told Eisen. "We have a lot of belief with the roster that we have, and the players that we have, that with Andy we can do a lot of good things. But we also have to be real."

 

Eisen had suggested the possibility Fields would progress too rapidly to be sitting.

"I have to be prepared for what you just brought up," Nagy said. "And as long as we know that whoever that quarterback is, that they're better for the Bears and if that's Justin, then we'll do that."

Lazor isn't worried how any of the quarterbacks will address what can be an uncomfortable situation.

"I think Justin has to handle how he thinks," Lazor said. "He's a big guy. He's a grown up. He's competed his whole life." 

Nagy did say he was on the phone right away talking to Dalton after the first-round trade up to draft Fields. But Lazor is less worried about the veterans accepting the competition.

"The guy (Dalton) is a pro and the guy is here to help win games," Lazor said. "The responsibility to me of the younger players, the new players, whatever level they come in with, is to figure out who among the veterans should I be watching. And that's their job as young guys.

 

"If all the veterans do the very best job they can of being pros and being the best player they can be, it should be clear to the young guys: 'I need to pick up some of what that guy's doing.' So to me that's not on the veterans; that's on the young guys to figure out who I need to emulate."

Emulation only goes so far. Eventually it will be on Fields to show who he is, and Lazor believes the quarterback everyone will see is an athletic passer rather than an athlete who passes.

"I think he's a passer," Lazor said. "I really do. To me, this is the NFL and that's what excites you is when a guy can pass.

"Every guy brings a different skill set and I know it's very popular right now to talk about moving quarterbacks and such but I also know as an organization we work very hard in getting a whole offense full of skill players and not only do you want your quarterback to make some first downs with his legs you'd also like him to be very good at getting the ball to everyone else because you've invested a lot in the rest of the offense."

If this development happens as planned, they'll look like anything but an eighth-grade offense.

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No, it sounds like Dalton will start until Fields shows he's the better choice as far as winning games.

How can anyone read that article and not understand both Lazor and Nagy have said that?

1 hour ago, soulman said:

Coach Matt Nagy made an appearance Tuesday on the Rich Eisen Show and sounded a lot like Lazor.

"We will know," Nagy said. "If Justin gives us a better chance to win than Andy does then, that's something that we, and myself as the head coach who makes the decision, will have to make that choice," Nagy told Eisen. "We have a lot of belief with the roster that we have, and the players that we have, that with Andy we can do a lot of good things. But we also have to be real."

 

Eisen had suggested the possibility Fields would progress too rapidly to be sitting.

"I have to be prepared for what you just brought up," Nagy said. "And as long as we know that whoever that quarterback is, that they're better for the Bears and if that's Justin, then we'll do that."

 

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I just don't know how Dalton keeps Fields on the bench.

They are both learning the playbook at the same time and Fields talent level is on a different planet compared to Dalton.

 

I am starting to move from the "development" camp to the "support camp". I think what you put around the QB talent wise is more important than the individual development as these guys come ready to play.

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I think it is going to be tough for Dalton when things get real to stick with Fields just due to the pure added element Fields brings with his legs...that ability to not only keep plays alive longer but to really hurt teams when running just makes it so much more difficult for any defensive coordinator to gameplan for...will be really interesting when they get into contact based scrummages in camp to see how that plays out.

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He is not going to sit.  

They are kidding themselves trying to recreate Mahomes and Smith. They are idealizing. 

Faster they realize it better off Bears will be.  Hopefully they don't waste too many days or weeks figuring out what will soon become obvious. 

It just isn't going to play out any other way barring an injury. 

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53 minutes ago, WindyCity said:

I just don't know how Dalton keeps Fields on the bench.

They are both learning the playbook at the same time and Fields talent level is on a different planet compared to Dalton.

 

I am starting to move from the "development" camp to the "support camp". I think what you put around the QB talent wise is more important than the individual development as these guys come ready to play.

100%

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Tee Martin said his career was ruined because they told him he was sitting for a year.  So he didn't prepare each week like a starter.  Then injuries forced him in suddenly.  

I think Fields isn't making that mistake. But I hate it when coaches tell players they are going to sit. 

And coaches don't prepare back ups like they do starters. They just don't. There isn't time to do both.  

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1 hour ago, dll2000 said:

Tee Martin said his career was ruined because they told him he was sitting for a year.  So he didn't prepare each week like a starter.  Then injuries forced him in suddenly.  

I think Fields isn't making that mistake. But I hate it when coaches tell players they are going to sit. 

And coaches don't prepare back ups like they do starters. They just don't. There isn't time to do both.  

When Martin was playing there was less restrictions on team practices as well I believe, right? That likely isn't going to be changing any time soon that will favor developing back ups. 

 

They'll find ways to work with him, the Bears invested too much to do otherwise. Hopefully they can find a balance if Dalton is going to start. 

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4 hours ago, soulman said:

No, it sounds like Dalton will start until Fields shows he's the better choice as far as winning games.

How can anyone read that article and not understand both Lazor and Nagy have said that?

They repeatedly talked about being confident in Dalton, that they view Dalton and Foles as being "1st round picks", etc.

In the article Lazor says:

5 hours ago, soulman said:

(Dalton) is a pro and the guy is here to help win games. The responsibility to me of the younger players, the new players, whatever level they come in with, is to figure out who among the veterans should I be watching. And that's their job as young guys.

In essence: Andy is here to help us win games right now. Justin's job is to learn from Andy.

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26 minutes ago, abstract_thought said:

They repeatedly talked about being confident in Dalton, that they view Dalton and Foles as being "1st round picks", etc.

In the article Lazor says:

In essence: Andy is here to help us win games right now. Justin's job is to learn from Andy.

And Foles - if not traded at some point - becomes another QB coach. Fields is in an infinitely better situation than Tru was, since he had Glennon and then Sanchez. I'm not a fan of Dalton but 140+ starts experience isn't anything to sneeze at. He isn't someone you want as a longterm starter but as a prop QB for Fields it is about as solid a choice as was available. Maybe he and Foles will be massive support for him. 

 

That being said I agree with @dll2000 on starting with Fields if he isn't way behind Dalton. 2021 Dalton isn't near the player that 2017 Smith was, and it's easy to play Smith when they were top 10 offensively. While we have stepped up QB and likely OL we aren't a top 10 offense at all either way. 

 

Either way though we aren't squandering games with Glennon so I'm fine with however Pace and Nagy roll with the decision. 

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You are either good or your not. Coaching will swing that 10-15% in each direction.

If Fields is who you think he is, then the plan should be to play him and let him do what he does. 

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@WindyCitymade same point above and I have made it before.  

Dalton, like Glennon, has to learn this offense.  Smith didn’t have to learn anything.  

If coaches are going to play Dalton they are going to have spend a lot of time with him.  

Time is finite.  And time is limited further by CBA.   Every minute spent on Dalton is a minute not spent on Fields.

You pour all your resources into Fields and just enough into Dalton that HE can be respectable back up.  Not vis a versa.  

But, but he needs to learn to take snaps under center.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The one big argument I've seen to not immediately start Fields is the OL....

Teven Jenkins looks like a stud, but he's still a rookie, likewise I'd rather let Dalton (or even Foles) go out there and take the hits until we know we have the OL set.... ESPECIALLY if we end up with Rookies at both OT positions.

I fully expect Fields starting by the BYE week, however.

Edited by Epyon
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