Chicago Bears fans are desperate to see Justin Fields be the team’s starting quarterback.
Yet GM Ryan Pace has made it clear that Andy Dalton is QB1, at least for now.
Pace remains in focus in 2021 alongside head coach Matt Nagy.
However, the former may be on the hotter seat because he is the one creating the roster for Nagy to coach.
Pace took over in 2015 and hired John Fox as head coach.
Next up was the decision to draft Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 overall a few years later.
Everything was great in 2018, Nagy’s debut year, when the team went 12-4 and reached the playoffs.
A double-doink field goal ruined that year and two 8-8 finishes followed.
Now Fields is in town as the next big thing.
Easing him into action could end up benefitting Pace’s job security over the next few years.
Pace on Fields (2/2) “… He goes through progressions. I think you feel like you see a lot of young quarterbacks who kind of stare down an intended target — you see him working through his progressions, which I think is really good to see from a young quarterback."
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) September 1, 2021
Not Rushing The Rookie
Not putting a rookie quarterback on the field in Week 1 is not some unheard of strategy.
But for Pace, this plan could help him in the long run.
Let’s say Dalton starts four or five games and the team goes to Fields with a losing record.
If the #Bears aren’t starting Justin Fields because they’re concerned about the state of the offensive line, then Ryan Pace should be fired immediately. That’s a complete failure on his part that has bigger ramifications than just Fields. It’s a near-guarantee for a losing year
— Bryan Perez (@BryanPerezNFL) September 1, 2021
If he comes in, progresses well, and looks like the franchise guy, the final result of the year may not matter.
Pace would then be tasked with building a better roster around Fields in 2022.
The back-and-forth here may come with Pace and Nagy if the coach is adamant he needs Fields out there to ensure his own job security.
This is a rare situation where a coach and GM get another fresh start with an elite quarterback talent after already going through this process.
Placing all the blame on Trubisky seemed to benefit both individuals.
But they can no longer do that with Fields.
Dalton Could Work Out
It is entirely possible that Dalton gets back to his old ways and the Bears compete for a playoff spot with him under center.
That would be ideal because it allows the team to win while letting Fields fully adjust to the NFL game from the sidelines for a year.
It’s not like Dalton was brought in as some last resort.
He was declared QB1 this offseason and the Bears see him as a legitimate placeholder option.
Perhaps that will end up being Pace’s downfall in the end as Fields remains in waiting.
Changes happen fast in the NFL and Fields could be out there in Week 2.
Such a reality would immediately put Pace on the clock if the rookie looks lost, yet that should not be the case given the early signs from preseason.