Andy Dalton to Start for Bears vs. Vikings; Justin Fields on Reserve/COVID-19 List

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 7, 2022

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 21: Chicago Bears quarterbacks Justin Fields (1), Nick Foles (9), Andy Dalton (14) and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo look on during a preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills on August 21, 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 head coach Matt Nagy announced Friday that Andy Dalton will start at quarterback in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Minnesota Vikings. Nick Foles is set to serve as the backup.

Nagy explained it's possible signal-caller Justin Fields, who's on the NFL's reserve/COVID-19 list, could still test out of the protocols before Sunday, but the rookie has missed too much practice time this week to play a key role.

If Fields' debut campaign is over, it comes to a close with mixed results.

The 11th overall pick in the 2021 draft completed 58.9 percent of his throws for 1,870 yards with seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions across 12 games (10 starts). He added 420 rushing yards and two scores on the ground.

The Ohio State product ranked last among 31 qualified quarterbacks in ESPN's Total QBR (25.7) and received a lackluster 64.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.

That's not to say there weren't moments when he flashed his potential.

He rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown in a Week 8 game against the San Francisco 49ers to highlight his dual-threat ability, and he put together his most comprehensive performance as a passer (26-of-39 for 285 yards with one TD and no picks) in Week 15 against the Vikes.

Fields should enter the 2022 campaign as the Bears' undisputed starting quarterback.

Meanwhile, Dalton is set to become a free agent at season's end and gets one final opportunity to prove himself to potentially interested teams.

The 34-year-old former Cincinnati Bengals starter has compiled seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in seven appearances (five starts) in 2021.

Both the Bears (6-10) and Vikings (7-9) have been eliminated from playoff contention heading into the Week 18 encounter.