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Andy Dalton Named Bears' Week 1 Starter over Justin Fields, Matt Nagy Says

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 21, 2021

Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton, left, looks to pass as quarterback Justin Fields watches as they warmup before an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins in Chicago, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Chicago Bears fans will continue to wait for Justin Fields to be the team's quarterback, as head coach Matt Nagy confirmed Andy Dalton will open the regular season as the starter.

Nagy announced after Saturday's preseason game against the Buffalo Bills that the 33-year-old will be under center for the Bears against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1.

"We need to see him in the regular season," Nagy said of Dalton.

It became apparent during the Bills game that Dalton had the inside track on the starting job. He played the entire first half, and with only three preseason games on the schedule this year, this will likely be the week that teams showcase their starters.

Dalton finished 11-of-17 for 146 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

The Bears signed Dalton as a free agent in March. It was assumed at the time, based on the team's Twitter account, that the veteran was going to be the starter.

Chicago Bears @ChicagoBears

QB1. https://t.co/TuyrAcpoCM

Chicago's quarterback room got an unexpected boost during the draft. The team moved up nine spots in a trade with the New York Giants to select Fields with the 11th pick.

Despite the addition of the talented Ohio State star, Nagy insisted throughout the offseason and during training camp that Dalton was going to be the starter.

"Andy is our starter," he said in June on The Cris Collinsworth Podcast (h/t NFL.com's Jelani Scott). "Again, I can't predict anything. You know how it goes. There's so many things that can happen between today and that Week 1, but Andy is our starter and Justin's our No. 2. And we're going to stick to this plan."

Fields' performance throughout training camp and in preseason certainly excited Bears fans about the future. 

Chicago Bears @ChicagoBears

Backpedalling right into the endzone. @JJames18_ | #MIAvsCHI 📺: Fox32 & @nflnetwork https://t.co/fqfnl1tZFe

Nagy's decision, though, is the only one that matters. Dalton isn't a bad stopgap. He threw for 2,170 yards, completed 64.9 percent of his attempts and tossed 14 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 11 appearances with the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. 

Dalton averaged 3,510 passing yards and 23 touchdown passes with 13 picks per season from 2011-19 in 133 starts with the Cincinnati Bengals

There's no denying Fields is the future for Chicago, but Dalton will hold the reins until Nagy and the coaching staff determine the 22-year-old is ready to go. 

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