Is there fantasy soccer worth within the redesigned Bears QB room?
Despite a 8-8 record in 2020, the Chicago Bears reached the postseason as the NFC’s first seventh seed, which was enough to grant head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace a stay of execution.
Make no mistake, however, that the duo is on the clock after laying the blame for Chicago’s offensive regression at the feet of Mitchell Trubisky, whom Pace notoriously picked ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson by allowing him to leave free-hand .
Rumors circulated that the Bears were planning to take over Watson, and later Russell Wilson, but those hopes fizzled out on March 17 when veteran Andy Dalton signed a one-year deal. The torches and pitchforks were out among the bear lover, but Pace had another step up his sleeve. On draft day, the GM grabbed 20th pick along with next year’s first-round pick and a pair of mid-rounders to move up and grab Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
Following these additions, Nagy announced that Dalton would open the season as QB1 while Fields watched and studied. It’s a plan we’ve seen over and over, although teams often give up on that approach when / as losses increase. With Nagy and Pace keeping up close and personal, you can bet the pressure will be immense to get this right lest another coach and GM oversee Fields’ development in 2022.
If you’re looking for an example of a young QB who is instantly successful, look no further than Dalton who led Cincinnati to a 9-7 record and a wild card bid as a second-round pick. It would be the first of five straight playoff appearances for Dalton, although his tenure in Bengals ended in 2019 after four times under .500.
His only season in Dallas proved eventful as he was pushed into action by Dak Prescott’s injury and made nine uneven starts around a concussion. While his final numbers weren’t terrible, they were backed by a three-game run in December against the Bengals, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, all of whom were out of playoff competition. A week 17 loss to the 5-10 Giants put an end to the Cowboys’ hopes for a division title.
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Despite a deep and talented reception corps in Dallas, Dalton looked like a game manager in every way, with a career of 6.5 yards per try and 64.9 percent completions. He capped the big mistakes after some problems with interceptions towards the end of his Bengals career, but we are now almost a decade away from his best statistical season: 4,293 yards and 33 TDs in 2013.
Dalton’s ability to stay in Chicago QB1 depends on one thing, winning, and the recipe for doing so will be to read safely, avoid losing the ball, and hope the defense can play. Could it work? Sure, but there is no advantage here. Avoid.
If the Red Rifle fails, you can bet Nagy won’t hesitate to call Fields’ number. The rookie comes to a QB-hungry franchise in the midst of massive hype, due in part to his work in high-profile Ohio State (5,701 yards, 67 TDs, 9 INTs in two seasons), but it’s fair to ask if expectations have been exceeded by hand based on how badly Chicago missed on the Trubisky pick.
Fields showed poise and tenacity with the Buckeyes, and he has the athleticism to play in the pocket and on the run. Scouts, on the other hand, worry about his tendency to focus on goals and not make progress. He also had ball security issues that need to be addressed.
While his college numbers are eye-catching, don’t read them as he was surrounded by high-end talent who often simply overtook opponents and acted in Ryan Day’s spread offensive. Neither of these factors will hold in Chicago. Yes, Allen Robinson (102-1.250-6) is a stallion, but after that, count on developing players like Darnell Mooney (61-631-4) and Cole Kmet (28-243-2) alongside aging talent like Jimmy Graham (50-456-8).
No matter who takes the snaps, expect David Montgomery’s running back to be the centerpiece of the offense after recording 301 touches, 1,508 yards and 10 TDs in a strong finish to his sophomore season. Scatback Tarik Cohen is also returning after missing out on most of 2020 with a ripped ACL. He opened camp on the PUP list but is likely ready for week 1. Cohen caught 150 passes in 2018-19 and should be a popular destination for the cautious Dalton or inexperienced fields.
There is certainly a lot to like about Fields’ potential, but there are no shortage of question marks for 2021: When will he take over Dalton? What will the offense look like with him under the middle? Do the bears have enough talent around them? Is Nagy able to develop a young quarterback? With so much uncertainty, designing Fields as more than just a late-round aviator is a mistake, and its real value lies in the Dynasty.
In case you forgot, Foles is still in the Windy City with an Albatross contract that includes a $ 14.3 million cap hit if released. The veteran is still celebrated for his standout play during Philly’s 2017 Super Bowl run, but he has had only one impressive season in his 10-year career, and that came in 2013 under Chip Kelly. They know things are completely out of joint when Foles snaps snaps for the bears this year.