Training camp is open! The Chicago Bears had their first practice on Wednesday, while today marks the first day Halas Hall is open for fans. Sure, it is limited to 1,000 fans in attendance, but Halas Hall figures to be buzzing as the Bears make their way back into game shape. So with camp arriving and the preseason approaching, let’s take an early look at who’s on the team right now.
• 2020 stats: 216/333 (64.9 completion pct.), 2,170 yards, 14 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 87.3 passer rating, 69.6 grade from Pro Football Focus in 16 games
The New Guy:
In case you are an alien from outer space and just happen to be stumbling upon Chicago for the first time, the Bears chose Ohio State QB Justin Fields with the 11th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. And it was a big, freaking deal:
The Forgotten Man:
Nick Foles was brought into be the bridge guy last offseason, but couldn’t even make it to this season without sliding down a few pegs. So, one year after finding himself in a quarterback competition, Foles is now a guiding light for Fields’ rookie season. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
What to Watch For:
Fields vs. Dalton. What else is there to watch?
We Really Like:
The makeup of the quarterbacks room is as good as it has been in years. Moreover, there is a strong case to be made that this collection of quarterbacks is the best the Bears have had since I’ve been watching them over the last 30+ years. It obviously starts with Justin Fields being the most talented of the bunch, but let’s not look past the other guys. Andy Dalton has three Pro Bowl nods under his belt, quarterbacked the Bengals to five winning seasons, and started four playoff games. Say what you want about Dalton, but there’s no denying that leading the Bengals to the postseason is a real accomplishment. Nick Foles has won a Super Bowl, for crying out loud!
Everyone in this QBs room has something to offer to each other. So I’m curious to see how all of that translates as we get the ball rolling this summer.
We Might Be Worried About:
Rushing Fields into action is my main concern right now. Don’t get it twisted. I want to see Fields under center as soon as humanly possible. The guy was a dynamic college quarterback and has the tools to make big things happen at this level. HOWEVER, I don’t want to see him before he is ready for action. So, in a way, I also have concerns about how good Dalton will be. One reason Mitchell Trubisky saw action earlier than expected in 2017 was because Mike Glennon was that bad. If Dalton is good, then my concerns will go by the wayside. But if he struggles for a while, then my Fields concerns could pop up again.
Then again, if Fields is good and so is Dalton, then we’ll have other discussions.
I’ve spent a healthy (unhealthy?) amount of time this spring and summer trying to envision when Fields will make his Bears debut. Will Nagy use him in packages specific to Fields’ skills? The Ravens set up a blueprint of sorts with Lamar Jackson, giving him game reps in the first eight games of his rookie year. It wasn’t much, but 73 snaps over eight games isn’t inconsequential. Is holding Fields out for a whole season a real option? How long of a leash does Dalton have? I could go on, but then you’d fall down the same rabbit hole I’m currently in — and it’s not as fun as you might think.
It all comes down to this: So long as Dalton is doing an admirable job, he’ll remain QB1. But an extended period of slip-ups will likely put his job in jeopardy. I think Fields will play at some point, but only if the situation merits it.