Should Bears have considered benching QB Justin Fields?
After the Bears squeaked out a 23-20 victory over Houston on Sunday, I started thinking about how much different football is from the other major sports when it comes to backups.
In the NHL, for instance, a coach has no problem yanking his stud goalie during an off night.
In MLB, a manager will often sit a young phenom -- or even demote him to the minors -- if he's in an awful slump. Same in the NBA (although demotions are rare).
When it comes to quarterbacks, though, NFL coaches rarely insert the No. 2 guy in the middle of a game.
There are myriad reasons why, with the top two probably having to do with the season's length (17 games) and the fact that the backup is nowhere near as talented as the starter.
But for the Bears, a case could be made that Trevor Siemian could have replaced Justin Fields in either of the last two games.
On Wednesday at Halas Hall, I asked coach Matt Eberflus why this substitution is not often made in the NFL and if the staff ever considered going to Siemian.
He blew off the query, saying: "No. I really don't have a sense or a comment on that. I really don't."
Look, I know it's apparently a radical thought, but why not try and find a spark by inserting Siemian for a series or two?
Not working? Go back to Fields.
It actually does work? Great.
In the postgame presser, explain why the change was made, then make it clear Fields is still the starter.
Of course, in this day and age the Twitterverse would be in an uproar and radio hosts would lose their minds.
But who cares?
Having the guts to make the move proves to players how committed you are to winning, while also showing them that anyone could be replaced if they're not performing up to standards.
Siemian displayed impressive accuracy during training camp and has been decent in many of his 29 NFL starts.
Last season, he completed 108 of 188 passes for 1,154 yards with 11 touchdowns and 3 interceptions for the Saints. In 2015-16 with Denver, he threw 30 TDs and 24 INTs in 25 games while compiling a 13-11 record.
So he's got the skills when needed in a pinch.
Now, the big question is how would Fields react? He could go sideways, but you'd hope it would light a fire that enables him to reach another level.
That's pretty much what happened to Corey Crawford in 2015 when the Blackhawks went to Scott Darling for Games 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of their opening-round Stanley Cup playoff series against Nashville.
Then Crawford relieved Darling in Game 6, never looked back and backstopped the Hawks to a third Cup in six years.
Another big reason NFL coaches may be loathe to make a QB change -- especially when they are trying to develop one -- is that every rep is considered so valuable.
This is flawed thinking, however. If a QB fails often enough, it's only human nature that his confidence will wane.
Next time Fields is really struggling, let him watch for a bit. Whether it's for just a couple of series or an entire half, making Fields sit could prove beneficial if he sees a teammate run the offense effectively.
It works in other sports.
And it can for the Bears as well.
By the numbersJustin Fields' game-by-game statsOpp. C/A Yds. TD INT
SF 8/17 121 2 1
@ GB 8/11 70 0 1
Hou. 8/17 106 0 2
Totals 23/45 297 2 4
Note: Fields also has run for 95 yards on 27 attempts with 1 TD