Andy Dalton’s Bears debut likely didn’t inspire the city of Chicago to begin preparations for a Super Bowl parade, but the quarterback isn’t worried. After dropping the season opener to the Rams 34-14, Dalton and the Bears found themselves on equal footing with fellow NFC Central mates Detroit, Minnesota and Green Bay, each of whom also kicked the season off with an L.
Dalton connected on 27 of 38 attempts for an uninspiring 206 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in his first start as a Bear.
Andy Dalton's longest pass attempt was 16 yards tonight. Only 5 of his 38 attempts were for 10 yards or more. #Bears
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) September 13, 2021
“It’s a long season,” Dalton said following the loss. “I think everybody understands that. And I think if you look at the way the division shook out today we’re still in the same position.”
To Dalton’s point, the other three teams within the division entered Monday with identical 0-1 records.
Aiding in Dalton and the Bears’ opening day clunker was a Rams defense that should be amongst the league’s best. “I think just the kind of way this (Rams) defense plays, they limit the big play and they make you just kind of move the ball down the field,” Dalton said. “You’re not going to get very many explosives against this team.”
“That’s what you’re dealing with when you play this team,” added Bears coach Matt Nagy.
Dalton was subbed out for rookie Justin Fields throughout different points of the game, a move that Nagy said was by design: “We had the plan and we stuck to our plan. We knew when and where we were going to use him and we stuck to that.”
Fields finished the game 2 of 2 passing for 10 yards and a rushing score.
“He did a great job,” said Nagy. “He’s a weapon for us. He obviously made a helluva run… The times that he got in there, he did well… (and) we’ll continue to keep growing with that stuff.”
Extended in-game performances from Fields could make Dalton’s version of a long-season feel like an eternity.