In Matt Nagy’s presumed final game as Bears coach, he’ll have the quarterback he wanted all along.
Andy Dalton will start Sunday against the Vikings since rookie Justin Fields tested positive for the coronavirus. So instead of seeing if the future of their franchise can take another meaningful step forward, the Bears will hand the game to a 34-year-old pending free agent.
Nagy shouldn’t mind too much, though, because Dalton was Plan A for him going into a season in which his job was on the line. He believed he could save himself by relying on a veteran, though one with modest success in his career, rather than riding out the inevitable stumbles of a rookie.
Ultimately, Nagy didn’t get to make that choice. Dalton’s knee injury in Week 2 opened the door for Fields and public pressure swelled to the point that there was no going back once Dalton was healthy. He has still appeared in stints, but it’s been clear most of the season that Fields was the starter.
Dalton started the season opener against the Rams after months of Nagy talking about how sharp he was and how smoothly the offense would run with him, and the Rams plastered the Bears 34-14. He attempted just two passes deeper than 10 yards, throwing incomplete on one and getting intercepted on the other, and finished 27 of 38 for 206 yards and a 72.9 passer rating.
While it’s worth noting that he hasn’t gotten more than two starts in a row at any point and that certainly makes it difficult to find a flow, nothing about the rest of Dalton’s season suggested he was going to be the answer Nagy needed.
Nick Foles will be the Bears’ backup quarterback, and they have the option of flexing Ryan Willis up from the practice squad if they want a third available.