Even though the Chicago Bears try publicly to treat any information regarding their starting quarterback situation as if it were the nuclear codes, national NFL reporters are doing their due diligence, unearthing whatever they can.
To that end, NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero shares an update that is clearer than anything Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy has said in recent days:
#Bears QB Andy Dalton is considered week-to-week with his knee injury. No final decision, but Justin Fields appears to be in line to make his first NFL start Sunday at Cleveland. Meanwhile, another rookie QB gets his first start Thursday night. pic.twitter.com/YMORQbslVY
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 21, 2021
“What I am told, Andy Dalton is considered week-to-week right now with his knee injury. At this point, nobody has ruled him out for Sunday’s game against the Browns. That knee he injured is structurally sound, but he has a bone bruise; and those can be tricky.”
Pelisseo provides a handful of touch-points for us in that 24-second clip. Firstly, there’s further confirmation that Dalton’s knee injury is a bone bruise. And while it wasn’t much of an update in regards of a timetable, reporting that Dalton is being considered “week-to-week” gives us an idea of the injury’s severity. Week-to-week injuries don’t simply go away. Once you throw in the importance of Dalton’s position and the value of having strong legs (whether it is to plant, drive, or land), you can understand why the Bears would exercise caution in dealing with a “week-to-week” injury.
And yet, news that no one is ruling out Dalton grabs my attention. Because, even if it is just a ploy, it serves as enough of a distraction. NFL coaches love trying to make their opposition overthink things. Whether there is a schematic advantage, however small, is irrelevant. NFL coaches will always seemingly go out of their way in an attempt to make their counterparts follow suit. I guess I have to respect the hustle.
But also, and perhaps most important of all, there is this: The existence of a capable backup like Justin Fields, whose development at the professional level should be a priority, means the Bears could truly treat it as a “week-to-week” injury from that standpoint, too. And to that end, one last nugget from Pelissero: “As of this moment, Justin Fields, the rookie, does appear to be in line to make his first NFL start on Sunday.”
There is no point in rushing Dalton back. And there is no need to declare a starter for the rest of all time on the first day of Week 3. The Bears can allow a time where Dalton’s health is an uncertainty to their advantage. This moment could provide an opportunity for Fields to take the job and run with it. And it could even allow Nagy to showcase the kind of offense that has supposedly been held back by previous QB play.
In the end, Nagy can hide his QB decision behind the cloak of obscurity for only so long. And while nothing is official until it is officially official, Pelissero is the latest NFL insider to suggest Fields is in line to start in Week 3. Stay tuned.