LAKE FOREST – Over the course of 2021, the Bears have yet to break on their plan at quarterback no matter what the circumstances.
Andy Dalton has been declared the Bears’ starting quarterback since March and that’s held through Justin Fields’ drafting, OTA workouts, training camp, and the first four games of 2021. The veteran, if healthy, has been the Bears’ starter, with Fields getting playing time after Dalton’s knee injury.
If you thought that was going to change after the rookie enjoyed the best game of his young career, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
At his Monday news conference, Matt Nagy made it clear that the Bears will start Dalton on Sunday against the Raiders in Las Vegas if he’s healthy. The only change that one could gather from the head coach is that there is more emphasis to arrive at a decision on the veteran’s status earlier in the week than they did against the Lions.
Dalton was questionable with the knee bruise but improved enough for the Bears not to rule him out until Saturday, when Fields was named the starter.
“We’ve got to see where Andy’s at, health-wise these next two days. That’s important, because like we said this whole time, when Andy’s healthy, right, when he’s healthy, he’s our starter. He’s the one, Justin’s the two, Nick’s the three,” said Nagy. “What’s been great about the last couple of weeks is Justin’s had the opportunity to play and get significant snaps, and he’s grown from it.
“So now we just got to see where Andy’s health’s at. Honestly, the next two days will be revealing to us. Once that happens and we get a feel for where he is, then we as coaches decide, ‘OK, hey, where are we at right now, how do we feel he is percentage-wise, Andy, to be able to go into that game at the starter.'”
Dalton hasn’t played since suffering his knee bruise in the first half against the Bengals in Week 2, with Fields playing the rest of the time. After a difficult first start against the Browns where the offense gained just 47 net yards, the rookie was 11-of-17 for 209 yards with one interception, leading the team on two scoring drives to start the game to help the Bears to a 24-14 victory.
Some wondered if that would be enough for Fields to keep the job moving forward, but Nagy isn’t about to veer from the Bears’ intentions for their quarterbacks in 2021.
“Again, this has been our plan, and Justin’s grown,” said Nagy when asked why he wouldn’t continue with Fields after a strong showing Sunday. “We’ve gotta see where Andy at with his health, and all that. I just appreciate and think that there’s a lot of great things that he’s (Fields) done, there’s a lot of things he can learn from. It’s also important to see that Andy’s done a good job as well, it’s unfortunate when he got hurt, moving the ball and the different things that we’re doing.
“Again, I give credit to both of those quarterback because right now they’re doing a great job.”
So, for now, no change when it comes to the Bears’ starter under center, with the Bears’ currently sticking to their plan.