The Chicago Bears' 2021 season will come to a close on Sunday after they face the Minnesota Vikings. With a 6-10 mark heading into the final game of the year, the playoffs have eluded the Bears this time around and will simply be playing out the string when they take the field at U.S. Bank Stadium. When they do kick off against their division foe, however, they will have the quarterback the franchise hopes will eventually lead them beyond Week 18 under center in the seasons to come.
On Wednesday, head coach Matt Nagy told reporters that the plan is for Justin Fields to start in the regular-season finale. The first-round rookie has missed the past two games due to an ankle injury and so long as he doesn't suffer a setback at practice this week leading up to the matchup, he'll lead the offense on Sunday, per Nagy.
"He's put a lot of time and effort into this year, into developing and becoming a better quarterback," Nagy said, via the official team website. "What this will enable him to do is finish on a high note and do everything he can to have a great week of practice mentally, physically, be there for his teammates, which I think says a lot for these guys."
Fields was taken with the No. 11 overall pick in last year's draft by the Bears, who traded up to select the Ohio State product. In 12 appearances, he has shown flashes of his potential even if that has not resulted in wins for Chicago, which is 2-8 in his 10 starts.
"These guys are battling," said Nagy. "Regardless of our record right now, you're seeing players that want to play. You're seeing players that care about their job. You see players that care about their teammates. You see players that care about winning. Justin's a part of that. And even though physically he hasn't been able to [play], he's still a part of it with us as a team. To be able to come out here and hopefully get him healthy to where he can help us win a game, I think it would be great for him to do that. And again, that's all we can ask for from him."
While Fields is the clear future under center for the Bears heading out of 2021 and into 2022, the same can't be said for Nagy, who in all likelihood be removed as head coach once Chicago's season officially comes to a close. So, not only would a strong effort by Fields end his rookie year on a high note, but it could also end Nagy's era more positively, as well.