Chicago Bears was if they'd truly hold to their pre-draft promise of naming and keeping Dalton as starting quarterback for 2021 -- after signing him to a one-year deal worth up to $13 million in free agency -- having later made a move in the 2021 NFL Draft to secure Heisman Trophy finalist Justin Fields with the 11th-overall pick. Dalton was exceedingly pedestrian in the loss on Sunday night to Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams, but is already shaking it off publicly., nor did head coach Matt Nagy. The prevailing headline all summer for the
Fields, however, had a different evening from the standpoint of his individual performance at SoFi Stadium. For despite Nagy refusing to use him as anything more than a gadget, Fields completed both of his pass attempts and his rushing touchdown was one of only two touchdowns scored by the Bears; and the electricity was evident when he was on the field (and in the end zone).
"I'm not gonna lie, I was (savoring the moment) during the game," Fields said, per NBC Sports Chicago. "I was like, 'Yo, this is crazy,' and then at halftime, I was like, 'Yo, this is still crazy.'"
When the 22-year-old scooted to pay dirt on a three-yard run late in the third quarter -- the first of his NFL career -- Fields felt his lifelong dreams materialize in real time. And he's exercising maturity in his role, not verbally pushing the issue to get onto the field, but instead letting his play do the talking while he absorbs milestones like the one he achieved in Los Angeles.
"It was definitely awesome getting out there," said Fields. "And just being on the field. Earlier today I was thinking: I never thought I'd be in this position. So just me being here was amazing. I'm just grateful for it, for sure.
"It's just crazy. Like, when I was a kid I was kind of a realist, so I never really thought I'd just have the talent growing up and make it in the NFL. So it's just crazy seeing myself here, and just seeing God work. It's just me being here, in this moment."
That said, there's obviously still the question of.
The Bears offense was a different team when Fields entered the game, and it felt as if the lightning left the air when he'd be again pulled for Dalton, and particularly after making a positive play. Dalton also struggled in the face of pressure, and it would've only made sense to give a far more mobile Fields the shot at escaping the likes of Aaron Donald and Co. -- on a night when the Chicago offensive front was bullied time and again.
In all, there's not a lot of logic as to why Nagy stuck with Dalton as Stafford carpet-bombed them, and while some speculate it's a combination of Dalton simply being the veteran who is also on a large contract for 2021, Nagy has a much more succinct explanation: It's because it's what the Bears want[ed] to do on Sunday, and he wasn't going to flex in real-time from that blueprint.
"We had the plan and we stuck to our plan," Nagy said. "We knew where and when we were going to use [Fields] and we stuck to that."
It's now on to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, a team hot off of a fiery overtime upset of the Minnesota Vikings led by former first-overall pick Joe Burrow and rookie fifth-overall pick Ja'Marr Chase. It's another club that could put up big points on the Bears struggling secondary, putting Nagy in yet another position to decide if Dalton should get the bulk of the reps or if Fields presents a more dynamic option that could help avoid them entering the dreaded 0-2 start.
There's at least a bit of hope in Chicago that Nagy will eventually bend, but don't go betting on it just yet.
"We'll see where that goes and how we do it," added Nagy on Sunday evening. "But I think we all understand that for us, strategically, we'll see where we go with that, without giving anything away."
What is Justin Fields' new jersey number in Chicago
If you're a Bears fan, you need a Justin Fields jersey before the new era begins! See the latest Justin Fields game jerseys featuring No. 1. Click here to shop.
We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.