LAKE FOREST – Over the course of the season, the narrative of the Bears’ quarterback depth chart has completely flipped.
To begin the season, Andy Dalton was the Bears’ starter and Justin Fields the backup. When Dalton was hurt, Fields was the starter, but it was said that Andy would assume his position as the No. 1 quarterback when he’d return to full health.
Now in November, that’s completely reversed as the Bears approach a similar situation with the players mentioned before in different positions. Dalton is the starter against the Lions on Thursday due to Fields’ rib injury, but Matt Nagy confirmed that Justin remains at the top of the depth chart whenever he returns.
So, for at least one week, the Bears are moving forward with their original starting quarterback for the 2021 season after he saw action in Week 11 against the Ravens. That was the first time he’d been on the field for the Bears since his injury in Week 2 against the Bengals, having lost the job to Fields when he got healthy against before the Week 5 game against the Raiders.
It won’t be the easiest of circumstances as Dalton won’t get the full week to work with the offense before Thursday’s game in Detroit.
“Just kinda talking through everything, make sure we’re on the same page of how we want things run and how we want to execute on some of these plays,” said Dalton of this week’s preparation. “So I think that’s the big thing. On the short week there’s a lot of walk-throughs, a lot of just talking through it. There’s a lot of mental stuff that you go through.
“All that stuff’s really important as it leads up to the game on Thursday.”
Dalton was able to get a little going when he entered on Sunday in relief of Fields in the first half, throwing two completions in his opening series including a short pass to Darnell Mooney who took it 60 yards for a touchdown. In the team’s second-to-last drive, Dalton hit Marquise Goodwin on 4th-and-6 for the go-ahead score with 1:41 to go.
He finished 11 for 23 for 201 yards and the two throwing scores.
Being in this situation isn’t unusual for Dalton recently since he served as the backup for Dak Prescott in 2020, his first after being released by the Bengals where he was the starter for nine seasons. He would enter the lineup when the starter suffered a season-ending leg in Week 5 and start the rest of the season.
“You have to stay ready, that’s the biggest thing, “said Dalton of being the backup. “I felt like I was prepared, I was ready to go this past week, and when I got a chance to come in there; Obviously there’s good things that happened, things, like I said, wish I would have had back.
“Just being ready if the opportunity comes.”
Once again it has in 2021, just the opposite of how it did earlier in the season.