This should come as no surprise, but Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy reiterated in his post game press conference that Andy Dalton will be his starting quarterback when the Bears head to Los Angeles to face the Rams on September 12 in the season opener.
“We need to see him in the regular season,” Nagy said about Dalton after his QB stumbled through a first half on Saturday.
But do we though?
The starting offense was missing about a half dozen projected starters, but it still wasn’t a good performance from Dalton. Rookie Justin Fields has looked like the better player through the first two preseason games, but to be fair, Dalton has performed better at Halas Hall the last few weeks.
Yeah, we talking ‘bout practice.
At this point the only thing holding Fields back may be the pass protection, or more specifically, his grasp of it. The Bears o-line is going to struggle, and Fields’ mobility will help him more than Dalton’s, but Fields having complete knowledge on where the free rusher is coming from and where all his hot reads are could be giving Nagy pause.
This was discussed earlier this week by ESPN’s Louis Riddick, and seeing Fields get popped by a free rusher against the Bills helps to visualize it. “If he (Nagy) feels as though Justin can protect himself from a protection stand point,” Riddick said, “then he will put him in there.”
Fields even said in his post game presser that the hit he took was a good learning opportunity for him as he works to get the pass protection right. And wouldn’t you know it, later in the game he faced a similar free blitzer, and that time he recognized it and completed a pass.
We all knew this wasn’t going to be a QB competition anyway.
Dalton was named the QB1 when he was signed in free agency, his status as QB1 didn’t change when the Bears drafted Fields, and it hasn’t changed during OTAs, minicamp, or training camp, so I certainly don’t expect it to change at any point in preseason.
Nagy and the Bears have their plan in place to get Fields up to speed, and while Nagy has wavered a bit in how adamant he was in sticking to that plan, it would have taken something drastic for him and the Bears to alter that.
And I just don’t see anything drastic happening this coming week at practice or in next week’s preseason finale against the Tennessee Titans. It may not be what most of us want, but we may as well get used to seeing Dalton as the number one.
For now anyway.
I was a guest on the Line For Line Podcast just minutes after the final whistle and you can check that out here.