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When will Justin Fields start his first game for the Bears?

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have been singing the same Andy Dalton song since they signed him back in March. He was brought in to be the starting quarterback, he chose the Bears because they told him he’d be their starting quarterback, and nothing that the team has done since has changed that path.

Not even the several unlikely scenarios that played out on April 29 — the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft — which led to the Bears trading up to take Ohio State’s Justin Fields at eleven overall has altered their plan.

Well, not publicly at least.

If I was a betting man, I’d say that there’s no chance Dalton starts all 17 games for the Bears this season. Chicago’s “plan” may be based on what the Chiefs did with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes, but the team knows the two situations are miles apart. The only commonality in the two are that each have a veteran and a rookie quarterback, other than that it’s an apples to oranges comparison.

The Chiefs had a five year run of success under Smith (with four playoff appearances), where he was named to the Pro Bowl three times. Dalton is just a guy at this point in his career. He’s more qualified to run an NFL offense than what we’ve seen in Chicago for a while now, but there’s no future with him and the Bears. He knows it and the team knows it.

I’m sure the coaches are geeked at the opportunity to name Fields the QB1, and I’m sure the “plan” they preach about to the media isn’t the same one they talk about inside Halas Hall. They’ve likely had internal discussions about the potential that Fields brings to the offense, and the timetable in them feeling comfortable in pulling the trigger.

My thoughts on this entire QB1/QB2 scenario haven’t changed a bit during the last few months.

I have no problem with the Bears waiting until they feel Fields is ready, because at some point it’s going to be obvious to the coaching staff, and more importantly, it’ll be obvious to all the players that Fields is That Dude.

If the Bears are forced to play him because of an injury to Dalton, then that makes it easier to go back to the veteran if Fields isn’t lighting it up. If the Bears feel they have to turn to Fields to give the offense a spark due to ineffective play from Dalton, then that adds pressure on Fields to provide that spark.

The best thing for both Fields and for the franchise is for the Bears to name him QB1 organically, because once he earns the job, it’ll be his and then *fingers crossed* there’s no turning back for a minimum 15 years.

Here are his full preseason numbers; 30 of 49 (61.2%), for 276 pass yards, 2 passing TDs, 0 interceptions, a passer rating of 96.98, and he scrambled for 92 yards with a rushing TD.

During the three practice games we had some wow moments from him, but it wasn’t all 100% made for ESPN highlight packages. There were some lowlights too.

  • Could Justin Fields start week one for the Bears and have some success?

Yeah, there isn’t a doubt in my mind he has the savvy and skillset to play in some version of an NFL offense early on. The Bears would need to alter some things for him, and be smart to avoid him picking up bad habits, but I don’t get the sense that adversity will ruin him.

  • Would him serving as a backup for a few weeks hurt or help his development?

While there’s no way to know for sure if sitting helps a young QB, I can almost guarantee that sitting isn’t going to hamper him.

  • Who gives the Bears the best chance to win right now?

I think this depends more on the supporting cast than it does the QB at this early stage of the season. The pass protection, which isn’t just the offensive line by the way, will determine the success from either QB. I’d expect a lot of quick passes, max protect, play action, and moving pocket stuff early on regardless of which QB is in. Fields is clearly the better athlete, but Dalton has a better grasp on setting the pass protection and where the free rushers may be coming from.

  • When will Justin Fields start his first game for the Bears?

I’m really hoping that Dalton and the offense look solid enough that the eventual change is due to Fields being ready, but my guess is their Dalton led offense will have up and down moments for a few weeks, and head coach Matt Nagy will make the change for week 5 on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Vote in this poll as to when you think Fields will get the QB1 designation, and if you truly think it won’t be until the 2022 season at the earliest, then let us know your reason why in the comment thread below.

Poll

When will Justin Fields start his first game for the Bears?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Weeks 1-3
    (302 votes)
  • 61%
    weeks 4-6
    (719 votes)
  • 5%
    Weeks 7-9
    (62 votes)
  • 7%
    After the bye week
    (83 votes)
1166 votes total Vote Now