- Rookie QB Justin Fields has been named the Chicago Bears’ starter for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
- Andy Dalton is unavailable due to a knee injury suffered against the Cincinnati Bengals last week.
- Despite much speculation in the media to the contrary, the Bears are insisting that Dalton will be their starter if healthy.
When the Chicago Bears took Justin Fields out of Ohio State with the 11th overall pick in the 2021 draft it was clear that he was expected to be the starting quarterback of the future. Fields will be the Bears’ starting quarterback for the first time on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Andy Dalton started the Bears’ first two games before leaving last week with a knee injury. He’s been ruled out for this weekend and Nick Foles will serve as Field’s backup.
The bigger question now concerns the future. Andy Dalton’s knee injury is not as severe as first expected but the team is still ‘working through’ the actual extent. Dalton injured the knee after a scramble when he landed awkwardly on the sideline. He left the game immediately for examination and Fields took over. Initially, it looked like injury had been avoided as Dalton re-entered the game but left after one series and returned to the locker room.
In theory, Dalton should be the Bears starter if he can return from injury quickly. The team has indicated as much, but head coach Matt Nagy wasn’t at all committal during Monday morning’s news conference. When asked if it would be difficult to go back to Dalton if Fields were to start this weekend, he gave this rambling answer:
“That’s all stuff that we’ve talked about. We’ve discussed how things would go, the what-if game, just so that you’re not making emotional decisions. And you also got to see how things are going. It’s literally that process that you talk about with these quarterbacks and with players in general and with your offense, defense, special teams.”
“Kind of all going back to what we’ve talked about from day one, which is just worry about today. We just try to stay in the moment right now.”
The primary variables here are a) the extent of Dalton’s knee injury and b) how well Fields performs as a starter. For now, Dalton is listed as ‘week to week’ though the team has been vague about the severity of his knee issues. Beyond saying that there was no ACL tear in the left knee they haven’t really explained much. If Fields performs well, it definitely makes a move back to Dalton more difficult even if he is healthy.
Here’s Coach Nagy talking about Dalton’s knee:
“Andy is still battling through his injury. Like I said to you the other day, we’re glad that it’s not his ACL. We’re not expecting him to practice today or to have him available this week, so he’ll be week-to-week.”
Nagy was once again vague and dissembling talking about Fields heading into his first start:
“It’s a great opportunity for Justin and for all of us as a staff to be able to take this thing and see where he goes with this.”
Justin Fields’s comments were much more expansive:
“I’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time. My mindset doesn’t change. I’m still going to have to play my football and just prepare the best I can. Like I said before, get a lot of practice reps and study, study, study, and get more comfortable and confident with the plays and stuff like that.”
The Cleveland Browns are a -7 point home favorite in Sunday’s game against Chicago with the total set at 45.5.