The Chicago Bears will start training camp at Halas Hall in just over two weeks, with significant turnover at the quarterback position. The Bears moved on from Mitchell Trubisky this offseason, replacing the former second overall pick with veteran Andy Dalton and rookie Justin Fields. Set to return is also veteran Nick Foles, who started seven games for the Bears in 2020, winning just two games.
As Chicago continues to get ready for the 2021 season, what are three questions at the quarterback position? Let’s find out.
1) How long will Dalton hold off Fields?
The million-dollar question that has every Bears fan buzzing: When will Fields start? Bears head coach Matt Nagy has consistently said this offseason that a plan exists to develop Fields. Part of that plan is hoping Dalton plays well enough to hold off Fields, giving the Bears a stable bridge quarterback.
Chicago has a brutal schedule in 2021 but expect Fields to play at some point. Those in favor of starting the rookie quarterback hope that Fields is starting in Chicago’s week four contest at home against the Detroit Lions. Others prefer to let Fields sit the entire year, similar to how Patrick Mahomes sat behind Alex Smith for 15 games in Kansas City during the 2017 season.
Dalton will need to start off fast week one against the Los Angeles Rams and begin to stack consecutive wins against teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and Las Vegas Raiders to remain starter. That means winning at least four of Chicago’s first five games to have a chance at starting between weeks six and nine.
2) Will the Bill Lazor offense have an impact on Fields’ development?
When the Bears handed playcalling duties to Bill Lazor late in 2020, immediate life was sparked in Chicago’s offense. Heading into 2021, we know that Nagy will call plays but we don’t know what scheme the Bears will run. Should Chicago decide to run the play-action offense it ran with Lazor calling plays, the Bears will significantly slow down the game for Fields, allowing the 11th overall pick to play faster.
Fields has shown he’s a dual-threat quarterback who can hit any throw on the field or hurt a defense with his mobility. Expect the Bears offense to develop a pass-first identity with Fields first read being a deep throw down the field. A play-action offense would open more opportunities for Fields in the middle of the defense, creating additional opportunities for Chicago’s wide receivers.
3) Is Nick Foles more valuable than we all think?
It is a fair question to ask, especially since Foles won just two games in seven starts last season but has been labeled as an incredibly smart player who knows Chicago’s coaching staff and offense. Foles won’t receive any meaningful playing time in 2021 but he can serve as a mentor for Fields to speed up the 11th overall picks development.
Foles’ magical Super Bowl run should also serve as a reminder that any NFL quarterback can get hot at any time, especially in big moments. Fields has had his fair share of big moments at Ohio State but Foles’ presence will instill confidence in a young quarterback who’s willing to do anything needed to succeed, especially since Foles will serve as a sounding board in 2021.