At least one of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft will begin his NFL career on the sidelines.
Bears coach Matt Nagy confirmed Tuesday morning that three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Andy Dalton will start Week 1 for the team’s season-opening matchup against the Rams on Sept. 12 instead of this year’s eighth overall pick Justin Fields from Ohio State.
#Bears coach Matt Nagy tells reporters that QB Justin Fields will start in their final preseason game and Andy Dalton will sit — because he’s the Week 1 starter.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 24, 2021
Dalton is 13-for-21 with 164 yards and a touchdown and interception apiece so far in two games this preseason.
MORE: Justin Fields defends Andy Dalton after boos
The Texas Tech grad comandeered a fairly lifeless Bears offense which only put up six points in the first half and got outscored 34-6 in the half in a game where Chicago got routed 41-15 by the Bills.
To make matters worse for the former Bengals starter, Chicago fans made their displeasure with Dalton’s performance known, booing him as he came off the field with the Bears down 28-0 at one point in the first half.
The first-rounder Fields, meanwhile, has shown flashes of promise, after going 14-for-20 with 142 passing yards and a passing touchdown as well as rushing five times for 33 yards and a touchdown in his first preseason game. He regressed slightly his second game as the Bills defense also held him in check, with Fields going just 9-for-19 with 80 yards.
He’ll have an opportunity to try and harken back to his Week 1 performance as he gets the nod in the final preseason game for the Bears.
While this was thought to be one of the more legitimate and competitive quarterback battles heading into the season, the 33-year old Dalton didn’t mince words in lobbying himself to start under center for the storied franchise.
After spending the first nine years of his career in Cincinnati at the helm of the Bengals and ammassing four playoff berhts, Dalton appeared in 11 games and started nine for the Cowboys last season. He completed nearly 65% of his passes while throwing for 2,170 yards and 14 touchdowns compared to eight interceptions.