Andy Dalton, Not Justin Fields, Is Bears' Starting QB, Confirms HC Matt Nagy

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMay 17, 2021

FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2021, file photo, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. The Chicago Bears agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract with former Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton, agent Jeffrey Nalley said Tuesday, March 16, 2021. The three-time Pro Bowler could earn an additional $3 million in bonuses. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File

The Chicago Bears traded up to draft Justin Fields as a potential quarterback of the future, but there will not be a competition with Andy Dalton for QB1.

"Andy is the starter," head coach Matt Nagy told reporters. "Andy's going to get the one reps."

Dalton signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Bears this offseason after being guaranteed the starting job to begin the year.

"They told me I was the starter," he said in March. "That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here."

Dalton spent nine years as the starter for the Cincinnati Bengals before signing a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys as a backup last season. He eventually started nine games after Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury, finishing with 2,170 passing yards and 14 touchdowns in 11 total appearances.

The experience could help the Bears improve after ending last season with an 8-8 record despite inconsistent play from Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles under center. The offense finished 22nd in the league in points scored and 26th in total yards.

Foles remains on the roster and can provide the team with another option alongside Dalton until Fields is ready.

As Nagy explained, the rookie will have to earn his way on to the field with reps in practice while showing he can properly read defenses:

"He's going to get a great opportunity to do that against our defense. I think that's where we're going to have to see, are there a lot of mistakes being made? Or are there a lot of good plays that are being made? And is it natural and is it easy for him? That's what what we'll evaluate. You'll know when you watch it, you'll see it and we'll all feel it as coaches."

After starring for Ohio State the past two seasons, Fields will have to start from the bottom in the NFL.

Meanwhile, Nagy told the Mully & Haugh Show on 670 The Score that he could adjust the offense to fit those on the roster:

"For all three of these guys, these quarterbacks, we’re going to adapt to what they do best. It’s the same thing with Andy, right? Andy’s been in a lot of different offenses. And so, what are things that he does well? If there’s a concept or play that these guys don’t like or don't feel that we run in this offense…then we're gonna bag it, we're gonna get rid of it."

Nagy is only a couple of years removed from winning the 2018 Coach of the Year award thanks to his creativity on both sides of the ball leading to a 12-4 record. He will hope his flexibility in the playbook could lead to more success in 2021.