Andy Dalton said the Chicago Bears gave him assurances that he will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2021.
And in case you missed that introductory press conference, GM Ryan Pace continued to drive home the idea of Dalton being QB1 in his own media session on Friday:
Bears GM Ryan Pace confirms that Andy Dalton is the starting QB.
— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) April 2, 2021
Ryan Pace asked why come out and say Andy Dalton is your starting QB?
“Because that’s how we see Andy Dalton … as a starting quarterback."
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) April 2, 2021
Andy Dalton: Chicago Bears QB1 🐻 pic.twitter.com/dVzQ4BJDdI
— PFF (@PFF) April 2, 2021
Ryan Pace has some love for Andy Dalton. That’s not surprising. At least, it shouldn’t be. Otherwise, why else would he give him a one-year deal worth $10 million? If you’re forking over that type of cash, you better be into whatever you’re throwing that much money at — even if it’s just for one year.
Jeremy Fowler (ESPN) hears the Bears are “pretty pumped” about bringing Dalton onto this roster. And many vocal fans don’t share that sentiment, an anonymous NFC coach explained why Chicago’s front office feels this way.
“Once he got past the concussion stuff and the COVID battle, he finished the year really strong,” the coach said about Dalton, who true 13 touchdowns against 5 interceptions while posting a 95.1 rating in 7 games after missing consecutive starts after dealing with the aforementioned concussion and COVID issues.
Independent of belief from Pace and anonymous coaches, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert views the Dalton signing as his most underrated move in free-agency. Yes, you read that correctly. Underrated.
“There is so much vitriol over this signing that its positives have been buried. (That’s my definition for “underrated” today, anyway.),” Seifert writes. “Dalton is easily the best quarterback the Bears have trotted out over the past five seasons, from Mitch Trubisky to Mike Glennon to Nick Foles. He has taken five Bengals teams to the playoffs and could do the same for the Bears. He isn’t Russell Wilson, whom the Bears failed to acquire in a trade, but his upside has been ignored in the debate.”
In a vacuum, I don’t think Seifert’s assessment is totally off base. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine Dalton playing better in 2021 than Trubisky or Foles in 2020. Moreover, Dalton’s résumé is certainly better than that of Glennon before he came to town. So, if you’re basing your analysis of this current situation — and not off Trubisky’s potential or the heaters Foles went on during postseason runs with the Eagles — but on what’s in front of us, then there’s a real case that Dalton truly is an upgrade from what the Bears had last year.
Is that good enough? Hardly. In fact, it says more about the woeful nature of Bears quarterbacking. And it says a ton about how Pace has evaluated and addressed the position over the years. But that’s a different conversation for another time.