Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bears traded up to the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to draft former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, but he may have to wait a bit before he sees any on-field action. The Bears also signed veteran signal-caller Andy Dalton in free agency, and Chicago’s brass has maintained that he will be the one to lead the Bears offense onto the field come Week 1.
Quotes and soundbites usually hold little weight compared to the attention they are given in May and June, but the Bears not holding a quarterback competition is something that they have been saying since handing in their draft card for Fields. In fact, during an appearance on The Chris Collinsworth Podcast featuring Richard Sherman, Bears head coach Matt Nagy said there isn’t a scenario where Fields would be starting over Dalton for the season opener — barring injury of course.
“No,” said Nagy. “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 is our No. 2 and we’re going to stick to this plan. You always hope that nothing happens to Andy as far as injuries or anything like that and that’s why I can’t say 100 percent.
“Andy is where we want him to be, he’s had a great OTAs and we’re just gonna continue to build with that.”
Dalton spent last season with the Dallas Cowboys, and ended up taking over as the starter once Dak Prescott went down with his ankle injury. In 11 games played with nine starts in 2020, Dalton completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 2,170 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions while posting a 4-5 record.
Fields was a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in two seasons with the Buckeyes. He was a Heisman finalist in 2019, and then led Ohio State to the national championship this past season, where they fell to Alabama. While he has impressed some teammates with his big arm in OTAs, it looks like he will have to be patient for his chance.