No matter how fast the Justin Fields hype train rolls, Andy Dalton is continuing to operate as QB1 for the Chicago Bears. When the veteran quarterback signed with the club in free agency, the organization wasted no time dubbing him the starter for the upcoming 2021 season. However, the drafting of Justin Fields has — at the very least — put a ceiling for how far Dalton’s tenure with the franchise will last. At some point, the reins will be handed over to the first-round rookie, but Dalton is merely working in the moment where he’s pegged to be the starter out of the gate.
While that has seemingly been the plan since Fields was drafted, he could be pushing for that starting spot sooner than expected. The Ohio State product has impressed at every turn throughout training camp, including during Chicago’s preseason opener where he threw for 142 yards and a touchdown while adding 33 yards and another score on the ground.
When speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Dalton explained that he understands the hype from Bears fans surrounding Fields, but reiterated that the job of QB1 currently belongs to him.
“You can’t focus on that. If you focus on that, then it’s gonna beat you down,” Dalton said, via NFL.com. “I know who I am, I know who I was created to be, I know where my identity lies. Do I want the fans behind me and this team and all that kind of stuff? Yes. Do I want them behind Justin? Absolutely, I do.
“But that’s not my focus. I can’t focus on all that right now. Like I said before, Justin’s gonna have his time, and Justin’s gonna have a great career. But right now, it’s my time and so my focus is being on the best player I can be for this team and do everything I can to help this team win.”
It’s certainly in Dalton’s best interest to simply focus on his role with the team rather than looking over his shoulder towards the future of the franchise. While he’ll do his best to zero in on his job, if Fields continues to impress, it may become harder to ignore.
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