With starting job still his, Andy Dalton unfazed by Bears' drafting of Justin Fields


LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- As he broke the Bears' huddle and stepped to the line of scrimmage Wednesday at Halas Hall, veteran quarterback Andy Dalton had his competition watching closely behind him.

Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields stood right behind Dalton, who was leading the first-team offense through OTAs. For the time being, the 33-year-old Dalton is Chicago's starting quarterback while the 22-year-old Fields waits for his chance after the Bears traded up to select him at No. 11 overall in the NFL Draft in late April.

Dalton wasn't surprised when the Bears made their bold move to get Fields, and he maintains he isn't fazed by the challenge that lies ahead.

"I knew the situation I was going into, regardless of if they drafted somebody or they didn't," Dalton said Wednesday. "I was on a one-year deal and I was going to be the starter. So, my mindset didn't have to change. I already knew that I'm going to do everything I can to be the best player I can for this team and to help us win a lot of football games."

A three-time Pro Bowl quarterback over his 10 NFL seasons, Dalton joined the Bears on a one-year, $10-million deal in March before it was clear that selecting a quarterback of Fields' caliber was possible for Chicago. Though veteran quarterback Nick Foles remained on the Bears' roster -- and the prospect of drafting a quarterback loomed -- Dalton was informed he would be Chicago's starter.

That remained the Bears' thinking on the night of April 29, when they drafted Fields. Coach Matt Nagy called Dalton before Chicago went on the clock with the No. 11 pick, then again after Fields' name was announced in Cleveland.
Dalton was brought to the Bears as their starting quarterback, while the organization will also focus on developing Fields.

"Consummate pro," Bears tackle Germain Ifedi said of Dalton. "He gets the ball out on time, which is critical for a starting quarterback and critical for an offensive line. He's a leader of men. He's done it before. He's been in the fire and nothing fazes him. You love that in a quarterback, that veteran presence. He's been everything we could ask him to be."

Nagy echoed those sentiments.

"When the quarterback plays this game and he already knows what the defense is doing, he can play faster than others," Nagy said. "And Andy has a ton of experience in this game."

The addition of Fields has sparked excitement in Chicago. Fields' No. 1 is already the second-best selling jersey in the NFL, trailing only new Jaguars tight end Tim Tebow. His arrival brought a new buzz to the franchise, one that has gone 8-8 in each of the past two regular seasons.

Dalton now finds himself in the same place that veteran quarterback Mike Glennon did in 2017, when Glennon was signed to be the Bears' starter and then put on notice with the team's selection of Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 overall. Glennon started four games before becoming an afterthought in Chicago as Trubisky took over.

Dalton is already serving as a mentor for Fields, helping him learn the Bears' playbook, read coverages and master their position. But that's not why Dalton signed in Chicago. He aims to accomplish plenty on the field himself.

Dalton isn't glancing back at Fields. He's looking ahead at his chance to be the Bears' starting quarterback.

"I'm trying to do everything I can to make us the best team we can be come the fall," Dalton said.

"Whatever happens after this year happens. But my mindset didn't change because they drafted Justin."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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