The Chicago Bears shook up the NFL Draft by moving up to grab Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. The question now on everyone's mind is whether or not Fields will be the Day 1 starter for Chicago over Andy Dalton.
Of course DraftKings Sportsbook has the odds up for which quarterback will take the first snap for the Bears in the 2021 season.
Bears QB Week 1 Odds
Andy Dalton -167
Justin Fields +160
Nick Foles +900
These odds have shifted since Monday, as Dalton was at -200 just a couple of days ago. That makes me think there's been money coming in on Fields early and often since the numbers came out.
Let's take a look at the case for both Dalton and Fields to start Week 1.
Not that this is even worth writing, but unless both Dalton and Fields get hurt before the season starts, you can throw Foles out of the mix. There's a decent chance that the team will part ways with the veteran after the June 1st cut date coming up.
The Case for Andy Dalton
Both general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy proclaimed Dalton as their starter after the team drafted Fields last Thursday. Both decision makers have brought up that they are looking for a situation similar to Kansas City, when the team drafted Patrick Mahomes and he sat for a year behind Alex Smith. This scenario would give the rookie QB time to adjust to the speed of the league, learn the playbook, and get guidance from a veteran like Dalton.
The bigger question to me, is Chicago's offensive line. The Bears parted ways with veteran left tackle Charles Leno Jr., while drafting two rookies to restart the tackle positions. It will definitely take some time for the unit to work its kinks out and gel, which is why it's best to have a veteran QB out there calling the shots early.
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The Case for Justin Fields
Everything I mentioned about Dalton makes logical sense, but all of that goes out the door if Fields shows he is as good as the Bears brass think he's going to be from Day 1. If Fields balls out in camp and Nagy and Pace believe he gives the team a better chance to win than Dalton does, I can see them pivoting to him as their starter.
We already know Fields is the Bears’ future, so Chicago fans will be starving for their franchise QB to take the field. We've also seen a new trend where teams throw their highly talented rookie QBs into the fire from the jump, like the Cincinnati Bengals did with Joe Burrow last season.
Bears players are also excited about the move. Safety Eddie Jackson celebrated the Fields pick on social media, and many other players followed suit. There's the chance that the entire locker room pushes for Fields to start from Week 1 if he has a great camp, leaving Nagy no choice but to roll with their young stud.
Looking at it from a wide lens, there's a reason the Bears expended the type of draft capital they did to get Fields. This is a team that has had one of the worst QB situations in the league for the past 30+ years, and Fields has all the goods to be a successful quarterback in the league. He's a leader, tough, athletic, throws a beautiful deep ball, his processing traits are off the charts, and of course, he runs a 4.4 40.
We all know his ceiling is much higher than Dalton's, who is a capable backup at this age in his life. So of course Fields should be the starter of this team. But, is it wise to run him out there to start the season?
As a Bears fan, I'm ecstatic about the pick. I haven't been happier about a Bears draft in god knows how long and it is kind of odd to see everyone praising the Bears since last Thursday. But, with that being said, I still think Dalton starts in Week 1.
It's going to take the offensive line a few weeks to get fortified, so I don't see them jeopardizing their future for short-term gains. If the OL turns out to be disastrous, it would increase Fields chances of getting injured, similar to what we saw happen to Burrow last season. And that's the last thing anyone wants to see happen.
I'm personally good with trotting Dalton out the first few weeks and then unleashing Fields later in the season to get his feet wet or even next year. For all those reasons, I'd say there is actually some value on Dalton starting the year as Chicago's QB1.