Don’t get me wrong. All eyes are on Justin Fields this summer. Because no matter what Matt Nagy says about whom is starting now, Fields is the future of the position for the Chicago Bears. But until that time comes, it’s Andy Dalton’s team.
And for what it’s worth, I can’t stop myself from playing this on loop:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) June 16, 2021
Downfield accuracy has been an issue for Bears QBs in recent years. Ideally, Dalton provides an upgrade on that front. More specifically, when it comes to vertical lead throws like the one seen in the video above.
During Dalton’s last season as a full-time starter in Cincy, he posted a 64 percent accuracy rate on vertical lead throws per PFF’s data via the site’s 2020 QB Annual. That number was 19 percentage points above league average, which is impressive. Or to put it with a different perspective, it was 35 percentage points better than Mitchell Trubisky’s accuracy percentage on those throws last season.
And then there’s this from the 2020 QB Annual which caught my attention: “Dalton hits open throws at a high rate and ranked near the top in accurate-plus (perfect) passes.” This nugget was posted after what turned out to be Dalton’s final year with the Bengals, so we’re not all that far removed from this being a relevant data point. Granted, PFF notes that Dalton’s inability to press the issue vertically last year was a hinderance to the Cowboys’ offense. And that more recent data point is a cause for concern. But maybe a clean slate, different scheme, and clear path to starting will put Dalton in a position to be more like the thrower his was with the Bengals. It wouldn’t be the first time someone was better after leaving Mike McCarthy’s clutches.
The fate of the Bears’ 2021 season doesn’t lie in the hands of Dalton and free agent receiver addition Marquise Goodwin. But if Dalton can get off throws like that, and Goodwin can use his speed to create downfield separation, then I like this offense’s chances of putting points on the board more than I did at this time last year.