Matt Nagy has been chatty lately. But even when the Bears head coach opens up, he leaves plenty for interpretation and discussion. So it was almost jarring when ESPN Chicago radio host Marc Silverman – who was once a Bears beat reporter back in the day – jumped on the Zoom conference call with reporters and got some eye-opening answers from Nagy.
It all began with Silvy asking asked if anyone in the organization made promises to Andy Dalton that he would be the starter in Week 1.
“No, Marc,” Nagy said. “Promises can get pretty crazy. But what we told Andy is that he’s our starter. He knows that. That’s what Justin knows, that’s what Nick knows, and the rest of our coaches. … There were no promises, but we told him and I specifically told him you’re our starter. And that’s that.”
And in a follow up, Nagy was asked – with Silvy citing Nagy’s interview on Cris Collisnworth’s podcast – if Justin Fields could win the starting job this summer. Once again, Nagy gave a firm answer: “Whether it’s clarification that he can’t win it, yes,” Nagy replied. “Andy Dalton is our starter.”
Even that is a little confusing, so here’s Silvy with the emphasis on CANNOT.
Thanks to the #Bears for letting me go back to my reporting days & let me ask a couple of questions.
Matt Nagy told me that "a promise was never given to Dalton about starting but that he is indeed the starter." Nagy added that Justin Fields CANNOT win the starting job in camp.
— Silvy (@WaddleandSilvy) June 15, 2021
You can watch the press conference in its entirety here:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) June 15, 2021
Alright, so we’re now in the clear about (1) Andy Dalton being the unquestioned starter and (2) promises that weren’t made (but kinda inferred?) in the recruitment process. And I suppose we have clarification about Justin Fields’ role as summer begins, seeing that he can’t win the job out of camp. Clarity is good. I’m a fan of it. So let’s tie up some loose bits on our end.
I find it odd that Nagy can talk about Dalton, Fields, and Nick Foles competing to be the best they can be while simultaneously saying there won’t be a quarterback competition. It feels counterintuitive to push competition to be the best you can be without the ability to reach the highest level. Nagy also said “when you go through OTAs, training camp, preseason, the only goal we have is to put the best quarterback out there.” But can you truly do that without an open competition? I guess the answer to that is not when Andy Dalton is the starter.
In the end, my gut tells me that Dalton will start until he shows that he is unable to play. Or until he shows he can’t play winning football, as was the case when Nagy pulled the plug on both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles last season. This ultimately feels like a ride it ’til the wheels come off kind of situation. So, for now, it’s all about the Dalton Train. We’ll cross any bridges we need to when we get there. But for now, it is what it is with Dalton comfortably at the top of the depth chart.