Bears' thwacking by Bills should pave the way for Justin Fields, not Andy Dalton
Preseason NFL games are meaningless when it comes to regular season win totals, but they're meaningful when a team is trying to decide between starting their newly drafted quarterback or the veteran the signed in the offseason.
If that's true, then Saturday's preseason game should be very meaningful for the Chicago Bears as they attempt to decide between Andy Dalton and No. 11 overall draft pick Justin Fields. The Bears got smacked around pretty hard, losing 41-15 to a Buffalo Bills team that was led by their former starting QB Mitch Trubisky.
Dalton struggles before Fields takes over
Dalton, the veteran the Bears signed back in March, started for Chicago. And for at least the first half, it was an unqualified disaster. Three of their first four drives ended in three-and-outs, and the fourth ended in a fumble. Dalton struggled to get a first down, though he did throw a 73-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. The final two drives of the first half, and of Dalton's time in the game, ended in a turnover on downs and an interception.
Part of the problem is the Bears' offensive line. It's simply not built for a quarterback like Dalton, who is more of a plant-and-throw kind of guy. He's not a great mover, and that caused all sorts of problems on Saturday. The offensive line got completely dominated by the Bills' pass rush, and a QB can't get anything done if he's always running for his life or immediately on the ground.
Enter Justin Fields, the undisputed future of the Bears. Younger, faster, more mobile. He looked good on Saturday in what was a total blowout of a game. He's got moves.
.@JJames18_ lays out for it!#BUFvsCHI | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/VjoXRC067s
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 21, 2021
Justin Fields gets helmet knocked off but flashes potential
The problem is, while the offensive line isn't built for a QB like Dalton, it's also barely built for a QB like Fields, who has tons more mobility. Fields could have a bright future in Chicago, but he won't unless the O-line can protect him from hits like this.
Justin Fields got hammered pic.twitter.com/9LeNfFcc4z
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) August 21, 2021
Justin Fields getting a helmet on helmet hit pic.twitter.com/33xiqbCSFs
— Gustavo (@iamvega1982) August 21, 2021
But even with an O-line that crumbles to dust with just a fierce look, Fields can make magic happen.
Pocket breaks down, @justnfields makes a play.
📺: #BUFvsCHI on @NFLNetwork (or check local listings)
📱: https://t.co/yP7plsAJWJ pic.twitter.com/IIPyxKTcWe
— NFL (@NFL) August 21, 2021
So even though the O-line can leak like a sieve, Fields can overcome those shortcomings and actually make the offense work.
Nagy still sticking with Dalton, for some reason
After that game, the choice between Dalton and Fields seems pretty obvious, right? Fields should be QB1. BZZT! Nope! If you're head coach Matt Nagy, Dalton is still your man.
Asked Nagy how much stock he puts in preseason Andy Dalton: “We need to see him in the regular season” pic.twitter.com/zuoPCrNXBK
— Michele Steele (@MicheleSteele) August 21, 2021
That seems absolutely baffling. Fields obviously gives the Bears the best chance to win. It's not clear what seeing Dalton in the regular season will do, unless he sheds his skin and an entirely different, younger, more talented quarterback emerges.
But then again, that hit on Fields was rough. If the offensive line can't protect him, maybe it's better for the future of the franchise if he sits awhile.
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