The Chicago Bears’ quarterback situation might very well be the undoing of embattled head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace.
It was a few years ago that Pace traded multiple draft picks to move up from the third selection to No. 2 overall for Mitchell Trubisky. (For those who have lost sight of how bad said trade was, one of those picks ended up being All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner). Within four seasons, the Trubisky tenure was over in the Windy City.
In attempting to find a replacement for the 2017 first-round bust, the Bears exhausted all options. That included offering up the house in ill-fated trade talks with the Seattle Seahawks for Russell Wilson. Ultimately, Chicago chose to sign veteran journeyman Andy Dalton to a one-year contract.
Even after pretty much guaranteeing Dalton the starting job, Chicago then exhausted further draft capital by moving up from the 20th pick to 11th overall with the New York Giants for Justin Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft. Said trade cost the Bears a first-round and fourth-round selection in 2022.
It now appears that Fields won’t even have a chance to beat out Dalton for the Chicago Bears starting quarterback job during training camp. This is actually a thing.
“Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Bears already have promised quarterback Andy Dalton that he will start the season as the starting quarterback,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported on Thursday.
Say what? Isn’t it the old adage that competition breeds success? That seems to be the law of the land within most successful organizations. Chicago is seemingly going away from this trend in handing a veteran who has not played at a Pro Bowl level in a half-decade the keys to the proverbial kingdom.
Andy Dalton situation just the latest example of Chicago Bears’ failures
We’ll hand it to Nagy and Pace. They turned over pretty much every rock to find a quarterback that could save their jobs in Chicago. The duo was interested in Carson Wentz before he was dealt from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Bears were also in on Deshaun Watson prior to sexual assault allegations against the Pro Bowl quarterback becoming public record. Heck, Chicago offered up three first-round picks and two starters for the aforementioned Wilson in a trade that had less of a chance of happening than Tim Tebow winning NFL MVP this coming season.
Hyperboles aside, It’s almost like this embattled brass knows that its days are numbered short of somehow hitting a home run at quarterback. They now seem to think that Andy Dalton is that home run when reality tells us he’s a swinging strike. It’s just a continuation of major struggles when it comes to these two finding any type of solution under center.
Chicago Bears quarterback stats under Matt Nagy
- 2018: 67.2% completion, 3,747 yards, 28 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 98.4 rating
- 2019: 64.0% completion, 3,573 yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 83.9 rating
- 2020: 65.5% completion, 3,925 yards, 26 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 86.5 rating
Above-average quarterback play translates to success in the modern NFL. This isn’t brain surgery or the equivalent of finding a way to travel faster than the speed of light.
When Chicago Bears quarterbacks played well in 2018, the team won an astounding 12 games. With lackluster performances over the past two seasons, the team is a combined 16-16. This is what we’d define as causal. Somehow, the Bears’ brass thinks a quarterback who is averaging 17 touchdowns against 11 interceptions over the past three seasons will change this in 2021. Fun times.
Why not give Justin Fields a chance?
That’s the other backdrop here. Chicago’s top hierarchy threw caution to the wind by allowing Nagy and Pace to yield future draft capital for a young quarterback. Leading up to the start of the 2021 NFL Draft in late April, reports surfaced that the Bears were against this idea for one simple reason. They didn’t believe it made sense for a duo who might not have a long-term future in the city to trade future draft capital in a win-now move.
Now that the Chicago Bears appear to be existing in a parallel world, Andy Dalton is seemingly that win-now move. Let’s say that again for those in the back. Andy Dalton is that win-now move.
All the while, Chicago is unwilling to give Justin Fields a chance to unseat the veteran journeyman. We’re talking about training camp. We’re talking about practice (Allen Iverson voice). In what world outside of the Bears’ own choosing does it make sense not to give Fields that chance?
At the very least, the talented young quarterback will likely be working under a new head coach and with a new general manager calling the shots when he gets his chance. How the rest of the Bears’ roster looks? Well, that’s anyone’s best guess.