LAKE FOREST – The moment was certainly a shock for Bears’ fans and for many around the NFL. Some could argue it was one of the most dramatic moves and selections of the entire draft in 2021.
Justin Fields ‘selection by the Bears changed the narrative for a team and this era of the franchise as an elite young quarterback with proven college experience arrives at Halas Hall.
But one person who says he wasn’t shocked by the move is the one person directly affected by the selection – Andy Dalton.
He was signed to a one-year, $10 million deal in March and was declared the team’s starter for the 2021 season. Fields will likely push Dalton for that position this summer and into the fall, with some already clamoring for the draft pick to be under center againts the Rams on Week 1.
Yet for Dalton, who comes to Chicago with a decade of experience, nothing really changes.
“I knew the situation that I was going into when I signed here, regardless if they drafted somebody or they didn’t. I was on a one-year deal and I was going to be the starter. So my mindset didn’t have to change,” said Dalton when speaking to the media after a voluntary OTA workout Wednesday at Halas Hall. “I already knew I’m going to do everything I can to be the best player I can for this team and to help us win a lot of football games.
“That’s been my goal from the very beginning and so whatever happens after that after this year happens but my mindset didn’t change because they drafted Justin.”
But the goals for the veteran quarterback haven’t changed either: Be the Bears’ No. 1 quarterback this season while also passing along his knowledge to the eventual starter. Dalton has got to spend some time with Field both during workouts and in meetings, doing what he can to give his perspective.
“I’m trying to give him any advice I can on certain things. How I view certain plays, what I do with my eyes on certain things. Just different things that come with experience,” said Dalton. “Obviously, I’m going into year 11, I’ve had a lot of ball. For me, I’m just trying to help him out as much as I can.”
When asked to expand on his thoughts of mentoring Fields, Dalton got a bit philosophical.
“The position I’m in everybody should enjoy,” said Dalton. “All our experiences in our life aren’t for us, it’s for other people, so you’re trying to pass that along.”
Nick Foles is also doing the same according to Dalton and head coach Matt Nagy as the veteran sits third on the depth chart behind Fields and the starter.
“It’s really unique to see the way that they treat him, the way they help him, and vice versa. I wish you could all be in there to see it.,” said Nagy of the quarterback room atmosphere. “It’s just the start right now, but I think for all of us, they’re certainly all growing.”