Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields has made a strong impression in preseason action, but head coach Matt Nagy remains committed to Andy Dalton as the team’s starter for Week 1. Fortunately for Chicago, fans might not have to wait too long before seeing a quarterback change.
Fields is starting the preseason finale with Dalton and several other starters resting. While it won’t be an opportunity for the rookie to convince the coaching staff that he should open the season atop the depth chart, he is making up ground on Dalton.
Before training camp began, the Bears made their plan clear. Chicago wanted to take the same approach used by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017, sitting their first-round quarterback for a year behind the veteran starter. But it didn’t take long before Fields demonstrated he might be a better option than Dalton.
In his weekly mailbag, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer shared when he believes Nagy will make a quarterback change and why it likely won’t come as soon as fans want.
“My guess now is that Justin Fields will be starting at some point in October. And honestly, the offensive line is a big reason why.”Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer on when Justin Fields will start
There’s little doubt that Fields has outplayed Dalton this preseason. While the veteran quarterback has primarily played with the first-team offense, Chicago’s rookie is easily outpacing his production behind a backup offensive line.
But even in a year where Nagy is coaching for his job, the Bears need to think about the future. After losing offensive tackle Teven Jenkins to back surgery, Chicago’s offensive line is an even bigger concern heading into the regular season.
The Bears need to protect the future face of the franchise, finding the right time to put him in the best position to succeed. He missed a blitz in his second preseason game and it resulted in a brutal hit and those things matter to a coaching staff.
Starting Dalton to open the 2021 season might be the best move. The veteran quarterback will be the one under center against Aaron Donald in Week 1 and later Myles Garrett in Week 3.
If the team starts 1-2 or 0-3, the Bears could turn the offense over to Justin Fields for his first NFL start on Oct. 3 against the Detroit Lions.