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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Since March, the Bears have stuck to the line that Andy Dalton will be the starting quarterback for the team at the start of the 2021 season.

But the time has now come for the Bears to hand the job to the team’s first round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

At his news conference on Wednesday, head coach Matt Nagy changed course and announced that Justin Fields will be the Bears’ starting quarterback moving forward. That means that Dalton, if healthy, will be the Bears’ backup quarterback with Nick Foles remaining the third quarterback.

While he said as recently as Monday that a healthy Dalton would start, but over the last 48 hours the team has changed course, with Nagy saying that weeks of discussion led to this moment. Nagy also said that Fields’ starts since the knee injury sped up the team’s process of bringing the rookie quarterback along to the point where he could start.

“After this past weekend and the growth we saw, the discussion that we had was to be able to go this direction,” said Nagy of the decision. “That’s where some of the change was over the last couple weeks.”

Fields has taken over the job after Dalton’s injury in the first half against the Bengals in Week 2, starting in the loss to the Browns and a victory over Detroit this past Sunday. The rookie has completed 25-of-52 passes for 347 yards with two interceptions in four games this season while also rushing for 55 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown in the opening weekend against the Rams.

Oddly enough, Week 5 is when the Bears named their last first round quarterback selection as their permanent starter, doing so with Mitchell Trubisky in 2017. Unlike Fields, the quarterback didn’t take a snap until that start against the Vikings on Monday Night Football.

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