Bears' Andy Dalton: Justin Fields Will Have Great Career but Right Now It's 'My Time'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 18, 2021

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 14: Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton (14) shake hands with Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during a preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins on August 14, 2021 at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton said Wednesday he's confident in rookie Justin Fields' potential, but he's focused on making the best of his own 2021 season.

Dalton explained he's hopeful the fans will support him while he's the starter amid a push for Fields to immediately take over the first-team offense after a strong showing in his preseason debut against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday.

"Do I want the fans behind me and this team and all that kind of stuff? Yes. Do I want them behind Justin? Absolutely I do," Dalton told reporters (starting around the 4:50 mark). "... Justin's gonna have his time and Justin's gonna have a great career, but right now it's my time and so right now my focus is on being the best player I can be for this team and do everything I can to help this team win."

Dov Kleiman @NFL_DovKleiman

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bears?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bears</a> Andy Dalton on the excitement around rookie Justin Fields: "Justin Fields is going to have a great career but right now it's my time."<a href="https://t.co/WnGrbdcMKC">pic.twitter.com/WnGrbdcMKC</a>

Fields entered Saturday's game after Dalton, who went 2-of-4 in a brief appearance, and continued to impress by completing 14 of his 20 throws for 142 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He added 33 rushing yards and a score on the ground in a 20-13 win.

While the Bears' brass has remained steadfast in Dalton's status as the projected starter, head coach Matt Nagy said Monday the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft would get more practice time with the first-team playmakers as part of the "evaluation process."

Before Chicago drafted Fields, it signed Dalton to a one-year, $10 million contract in free agency. When he was introduced, he confirmed the team had promised him the starting role.

"They told me I was the starter," Dalton said in March. "That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. So every conversation I've had has been that, so that's the assurance that I've gotten."

In turn, it's unclear whether there's anything the 22-year-old Ohio State product could do during training camp and the preseason to get the Bears to reverse course and name him the Week 1 starter.

Fields said after his debut against the Dolphins he's trying to "make the most" of every opportunity he's given without thinking about when he'll be handed the keys to the offense for good.

"I think when you look too far into the future, you start worrying about way too much stuff," Fields told reporters. "You start thinking too much in your head."

If the Bears stay the course and let Dalton handled the starting job to open the 2021 season, the veteran likely won't have much room for failure. The calls from fans in favor of Fields will grow louder with each passing loss or poor performance from the offense.

Chicago faces the Buffalo Bills on Saturday before closing out the preseason Aug. 28 against the Tennessee Titans. It opens the regular season on Sept. 12 at the Los Angeles Rams.