Just bench Andy Dalton and start Justin Fields already
After having a short-lived stint in the 2020 playoffs, the Chicago Bears opened a new chapter as they replaced Mitchell Trubisky with Andy Dalton over the offseason. The veteran was already penciled in as their new QB1 but several weeks later, Matt Nagy and company still opted to draft a young talent at the same position. The Bears then selected Ohio State product Justin Fields with the 11th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The quarterback battle between Dalton and Fields didn’t change anything as the former still emerged as the starting quarterback for Week 1. It was quite expected as a similar transition was done by the Miami Dolphins last season with Ryan Fitzpatrick starting their campaign and Tua Tagovailoa taking over after a few games of riding the bench.
However, after their first game, it is evident that the team must already try their luck with Justin Fields as their primary playmaker instead of waiting for Andy Dalton to bring them over the hump. On Sunday, the Bears opened their 2021 season as they visited the Los Angeles Rams on their home turf. Right from the get-go, Sean McVay and his squad came out firing against a Chicago defense that didn’t offer significant resistance at all.
The Bears had a hard time moving the ball across the field, especially with the presence of their opponents’ hard-nosed defensive players. Opposing cornerback Jalen Ramsey, in particular, was a huge thorn on their side as he produced seven total tackles in the game.
Despite their struggles, Andy Dalton isn’t the one to blame for the dismal performance of the entire unit. However, he was also unable to do much in order to change the complexion of the game as he merely notched 206 passing yards on 27/38 attempts to go with an interception.
Meanwhile, Nagy did slot Fields in for a couple of snaps as the rookie came up with sufficient contributions given the time that he had on the field. He eventually ended his first career game with 10 passing yards on two-of-two passes completed to go with a rushing touchdown. Though he only saw limited action, his performance already gave Bears fans a slight glimpse of what he can do once he is given the opportunity to handle the playmaking duties for the team.
With Andy Dalton’s limited production in the pocket, the offense didn’t get to operate as smoothly as they wanted it to be. Pass-catcher Marquise Goodwin already led the receiving unit with 45 yards on four receptions while tight end Cole Kmet followed with 42 yards on five catches of his own.
To put it simply, those kinds of numbers from the offense can never bring a team to a win on any day of the week in the NFL. Their failure to find the endzone throughout the game ultimately haunted the Bears as they lost on a 34-14 defeat to start their campaign with a tough loss.
Luckily for Nagy, it’s just the first game of their campaign and they still have time to adjust their game plan throughout the season. It wouldn’t hurt for them to wait and see if Andy Dalton can bounce back and come up with better performances on the field.
However, they would be wise to roll with Fields if they want to fast-track their rebuilding efforts and have a more dynamic playmaker in the pocket moving forward. Either way, everyone knows that the Ohio State talent is their quarterback of the future and it would be better for him to get accustomed to the level of play in the pros as early as now.
Certainly enough, their decision regarding the QB1 position will greatly dictate how their 2021 season will go for months to come. For now, it seems like there is much more optimism surrounding a young talent like Justin Fields to deliver the goods for the Bears as compared to Andy Dalton as they aim to bounce back and achieve greater heights in 2021.