Andy Dalton Beats Out Justin Fields for Chicago Bears Starting Job
The Chicago Bears announced on Tuesday that veteran Andy Dalton and not rookie Justin Fields will be the Week 1 starter for the team at quarterback. Dalton will not play in the team’s final exhibition game at Tennessee, Bears coach Matt Nagy said, because he’ll be the starter in the regular-season opener.
Fields will start against Tennessee and likely play two quarters before giving way to third-stringer Nick Foles. According to Nagy, Fields will be playing with most of the Bears’ starting offensive unit.
“I think it’s going to be a good opportunity for Justin and then, you know, we’ll be selective across the board for the other players as we go, but you’re going to see a direction of more kind of like the old-school fourth preseason game for that,” Nagy said.
“We just want to see him play hard, play well. The variables are different. He’s not out there — just like Andy hasn’t been out here with some of those one receivers. So, all I want to see from him is just play a good game of football at the quarterback position and again, keep the big picture in mind for all of us.”
There were many Bears fans that were hoping the team would start Fields right at the start of the regular season after he was the No. 11 pick in the 2021 draft out of Ohio State. Fields had 175 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns against Miami in his preseason debut before finishing with 126 yards against Buffalo last week.
“I think I’m where I want to be,” Fields said. “I’m just focused every day on getting better. I’m learning from my mistakes in the practice, the bad plays and also the good plays.”
Fields is one of the betting favorites according to the BetUS sportsbook’s Rookie of the Year odds, tying with Trey Lance of San Francisco for the second-best odds at +450. The No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, holds the best odds at +225.
Winston Makes Impression
With Drew Brees retired, the New Orleans Saints are trying to decide on a new starting quarterback. Last year’s backups, Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill have been battling for the job, but head coach Sean Payton has yet to make a decision.
Winston made his case in New Orleans’ Monday night victory over Jacksonville, though, completing nine of 10 passes for 123 yards and two long touchdown throws in the first quarter. Winston, who was the starter with Tampa Bay for much of his five seasons with the team, is ready to get back in the saddle as the leader of the Saints offense.
“I haven’t started a football game in so long, I was so excited to just get an opportunity to start and lead the pack,” Winston said after Monday’s win. “The rhythm was great; the offensive line was phenomenal, and we had guys like (Marquez Callaway) making plays all night. You gotta love that.”
The Saints sit second on the BetUS sportsbook’s odds to win the NFC South this season at +350. The defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers are listed at -275, while the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers are +800 and +900, respectively.
Jaguars Lose Etienne For The Season
Jacksonville is relying on Lawrence to lead its team in his rookie season, but there is a first-year player from Clemson that won’t be making an impact for the Jaguars this season: running back Travis Etienne. The rookie was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday with a Lisfranc injury for which he’ll have surgery.
The running back suffered the injury to his left foot in Monday’s loss to the Saints. Because he was placed on injured reserve before making the Jaguars’ 53-man roster, he’s not allowed to return this season.
Etienne was the 25th pick in the 2021 draft, with coach Urban Meyer hoping to use him at both the receiver and the running back in his first season. Etienne led college football with 55 runs of 20 or more yards from 2017 to 2020, averaging 37.3 yards per rush on the plays. He left Clemson as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all-time leading rusher with 4,752 yards.