Hall of Fame QB Warren Moon Applauds Bears’ Handling Of Justin Fields
Being a successful NFL quarterback is hard. Few know that better than Warren Moon. Despite his standout success at Washington in college, the league still wasn’t willing to accept black quarterbacks. So the man decided to take his talents north to the CFL where he became a superstar. By 1984, he’d done enough to finally draw interest from NFL teams and eventually landed with the Houston Oilers. Despite his experience to that point, success was not immediate.
Moon threw 61 touchdowns and 77 interceptions through his first four seasons in Houston. It wasn’t until 1988 that he finally found his footing and morphed into an eventual nine-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer. Perhaps that experience is why he has a different perspective than most Chicago Bears fans and media do right now. When asked by Jeff Dickerson and Amber Wilson on ESPN Radio whether he’d start a rookie immediately or have him sit, Moon didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“I would much rather want my rookie quarterback to sit and watch and learn. Just kind of see what the differences in the game are from the sideline. Even though you don’t get much better watching from the sideline, you do still learn some things.”
What makes this so interesting is the context.
Moon himself started right away. He’s a well-known mentor for Cam Newton who started right away in Carolina. He was also a sportscaster for the Seattle Seahawks when Russell Wilson arrived in 2012. Wilson also started right away. One would think the former quarterback might support the idea of giving Fields the ball immediately. That is not the case. He supports what head coach Matt Nagy is trying to do.
However, when asked what it would take for the rookie to see action this year, he was rather blunt in response.
“When you’re losing ballgames. If Andy Dalton is not playing well and the team is losing and the team is not following Andy as their leader, that might be the time to make that change. I think if they wanted to start Justin Fields to start the season? They could, but I think it’s better if he sits and waits. I think the longer he waits, it’s just better for him.
If the team gets off to a terrible start…like they have a very tough schedule to start the season. Especially those first two ballgames. If they end up being 1-3 or 0-4, maybe it’s time to make that change really early because you don’t want to lose the football team completely.”
Nagy has maintained his stance from the outset. Dalton is the starter. Not because he’s the better quarterback. More because his experience and efficiency give the Bears a chance to develop Fields from the safety of the sideline. A luxury most teams don’t have. This decision isn’t about 2021. It’s about the next decade.
Warren Moon likely saw Saturday’s action too
What he saw with Fields was the obvious talent. The athleticism, the poise, and the big arm. What he also saw was a young quarterback who was under a lot of pressure and didn’t always know how to adjust his protections or find the open receivers. In fairness that tends to happen when you’re playing with 2nd and 3rd string guys who aren’t going to play in actual games. A huge reason so many are calling on the Bears to put him with the starters.
The bottom line is both sides have a fair argument. Fields is unquestionably the better talent at quarterback. He gives the Bears a better chance to win football games. However, he also proved this month that he still opens himself up to way too many unnecessary hits. A byproduct of his head swimming from trying to process so much new information. Something Warren Moon had to go through too.
This is where the benefits of sitting him come in.
Fields can still learn from the sideline and won’t have to take those hits in the process. Even an extra month or two of preparation can prove beneficial to his development. Fans won’t like it. Yet it seems Nagy and the coaches are committed to that course of action. At least for the time being. If the Bears are floundering by the end of next month? That could quickly change.