Andy Dalton’s Biggest Cheerleader Might Be His Backup

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Bears fans feel like they finally have something to cheer about entering the 2021 season with a brand new quarterback, but ironically, it’s those exact cheers that made Justin Fields uncomfortable.

During Saturday’s preseason drubbing against Buffalo, a game in which veteran quarterback Andy Dalton started and went 11/17 for 146 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, the Chicago fans got restless and began calling for Fields to play instead.

Fields may be the quarterback of the future in the Windy City, but the Bears coaching staff obviously wants to hold off on throwing him into games as the starter, especially since they have a competent, proven NFL quarterback in Dalton. To his credit, Fields seems to be completely on board with the decision, and he has publicly called out the fans for essentially jeering the starting offense.

“I noticed [the fans], of course. They are awesome, but they also have to realize Andy is a human being too,” Fields said. “Andy is out there on the field right now, so I really think it’s kind of disrespectful to Andy, them cheering my name like that. They have to trust in Coach to make sure he’s making the right decisions and cheer Andy on. That’s not helping Andy play better, them cheering my name. That’s not doing that. So I would say my advice to them would be just cheer for who’s out there playing on the field.”

Fields is being a good teammate by sticking up for his team and starting quarterback, but giving ‘advice’ to long-suffering fans in a major market isn’t going to make him a lot of friends, especially when the day comes that he’s playing and struggling. For better or for worse, the fans want to see Fields, and unless Dalton gives the frustrated franchise a renaissance year, they’re going to be demanding to take the new toy out of the box.

Is it wise to toss a rookie in as a starting NFL quarterback? Absolutely not; for every success story, there are a dozen failures. Quite often, even when a rookie outpaces expectations at first, a reckoning comes a year or two later once defensive coordinators learn his weaknesses. Young men need time to adjust to the demands of the profession, especially the process of preparation and recovery. Without the wisdom that experience produces, talent eventually becomes neutralized by other talents.

But alas, we live in a year-round, 24-hour NFL news cycle now, and the constant access to newness has made fans demand change more quickly than ever before. Fans, media, and eventually the front office will pressure head coach Matt Nagy to give Fields a shot if Dalton doesn’t perform well to start the season. For now, though, the plan is to let Fields watch and learn.

“We need to be able to see what Andy can do during the regular season,” Nagy said to reporters.

Written by TK Sanders

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