After trading next year’s first-round pick to the Giants as part of a move up the draft board to take quarterback Justin Fields on Thursday night, Bears General Manager Ryan Pace said that the team still views Andy Dalton as their starting quarterback.
It’s not the first time head coach Matt Nagy has been in a situation like this. He was on Kansas City’s staff in 2017 when they drafted Patrick Mahomes with Alex Smith on hand, which he said gives him “some type of blueprint to at least work off” as they bring Fields along.
Nagy called Fields fortunate to have Dalton and Nick Foles in the quarterback room and said that it won’t happen “overnight” for the rookie, but that no one will miss the signs when Fields is ready to take over the job.
“There’s some observations from all of us as coaches every single day, and just like we would tell any quarterback, when you come in here, you do everything you can to be the best quarterback that you could be,” Nagy said, via NBCSportsChicago.com. “Whether it’s in the meeting room or whether it’s in practice, and everything else will take care of itself. All of those guys are going to do it. And then we just got to decide then when we get to that point, how is he developing and how is everybody doing, and really keeping it as honest as possible with all of those guys. Then when the time is right, I promise you every single person will know including Justin when it’s the right time, and that’s naturally how it happens.”
Mahomes sat for an entire season as the Chiefs went 10-6 and took over once Smith (and Nagy) moved on in 2018. It remains to be seen if the Bears will be able to be as patient with Fields.