Why Chicago should ride with QB1

Chicago fans have chosen Fields as their quarterback and now the Bears should follow

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Courtesy of AP

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields plays against the Tennessee Titans in the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

James Krause, Sports Editor

The Chicago Bears and its fans can measure their options at quarterback any number of ways and probably end up with a variety of ways to decide a quarterback.

The one comparison that rookie Justin Fields will win over veteran Andy Dalton every time is who moves the needle among those in the City of Chicago.

Fields had the sixth-highest selling jersey in the league just three months after being selected 11th overall by the Bears, according to the NFL Players’ Association on July 29. 

When he took the field for the Bears’ first preseason game in Chicago against the Miami Dolphins, he got a standing ovation. After throwing two touchdowns against Miami, the talk of social media was Fields. Bill Barnwell of ESPN tweeted about Fields with a picture of Baby Jesus. 

There haven’t been expectations this high for an unproven pro in Chicago since the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose in 2008, but even that comparison doesn’t capture how big of a role Fields sits in.

Rose was drafted to a team that fans still associated with the 90’s dynasty and the all-time greatness of Michael Jordan. Fields is joining a Bears franchise that generations of fans associate first with hard-nosed football and second with having a legacy of lackluster quarterbacking.

The last great Bears quarterback? Most people will tell you Sid Luckman, a five-time All-Pro and four-time champion. Granted, unless you’re under the age of 80, Luckman’s legacy is only captured in colorless photographs and hearsay. Luckman retired in 1950, nine years before the arguably second-best Bears quarterback Jim McMahon was born.

The quarterback position, the most important and difficult in any major American sport, has been occupied in one of the country’s richest sports cultures by the likes of Erik Kramer and Rex Grossman. 

It’d be one thing if the Bears just consistently got a bad break at quarterback, but what makes the Fields selection in April even bigger was how general manager Ryan Pace completely sidestepped two potential franchise quarterbacks. The Bears traded up in 2017 to pick Mitch Trubisky over potentially the best quarterback of the next decade, Patrick Mahomes. 

Four years later, the Bears got a quarterback that fits the new NFL quarterback mold that Mahomes made. Fields has had flashes of the same abilities to make throws on the run and off-balance that Mahomes made a specialty. 

While Fields is a question mark for immediate success, there’s not a lot of question marks surrounding Dalton’s ability, or lack thereof, late in his career. 

Before taking over as starter last season with the Dallas Cowboys, quarterback Dak Prescott led the highest-scoring offense in the league with an average of 36 points a game. In games Dalton started after Prescott’s injury, the average dropped to 22 points per game.

The Bears got rid of Trubisky this offseason for Dalton, who in the preseason had similar results to his time in Dallas. 

In Dalton’s first-half appearance against the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 21, the Bears managed one touchdown, three turnovers, three punts and got booed off the field. 

In the second half, Fields came out in relief and got a standing ovation. Dalton’s first half had sealed it. The fans chose their starting quarterback, and now it’s just up to the Bears to make the same conclusion.