Head coach Matt Nagy had stood firm on the Chicago Bears’ intentions to begin the 2021 season with Andy Dalton as the starting quarterback over rookie Justin Fields.
In an interview on The Cris Collinsworth Podcast, Nagy was asked if there was a “possible scenario” that would see Fields play in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams on September 12.
“No,” Nagy said. “I mean, Andy is our starter. And again, I can’t predict anything. You know how it goes: There’s so many things that can happen between today and that Week 1. But Andy is our starter and Justin’s our No. 2 and we are gonna stick to this plan.”
The Bears moved up nine spots in the first round of April’s NFL draft to select Fields out of Ohio State at No 11 overall.
They sent the New York Giants their first-round pick (No 20), their fifth-rounder (No 164) and their 2022 first- and fourth-rounders to make the move.
Fields was the fourth quarterback taken in the draft, falling just behind Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars), Zach Wilson (New York Jets) and Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers). But Chicago do not appear to be in a rush to play Fields.
The Bears signed Dalton to a one-year, $10m deal in free agency, and general manager Ryan Pace told reporters in early April that Dalton would be their starter. That was four weeks before they traded up to pick Fields. Nick Foles also remains on the roster.
Dalton played significant snaps for the Dallas Cowboys last year once Dak Prescott went down for the year with a broken ankle. He started nine games and finished the year with 2,170 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions, having spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Nagy spent time on his podcast appearance describing how happy the coaching staff and front office were to pull off the trade to land Fields. But he reiterated that Dalton was always going to be the No 1 to start 2021.
“For us, we put together this plan, and the plan is that Andy is the starter,” Nagy said. “Andy’s played 10 great years in this league and had a lot of success. And we’re excited to be able to have him come in here and do what we think he can do, but yet also teach Justin how to play quarterback — all of us together — and insulate him so he can maximize his strengths.”
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