The Red Rifle isn’t ready to be QB 2.
In a meeting with the media on August 18, Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton fielded questions — pun intended — about rookie quarterback Justin Fields, and the veteran signal-caller made it clear that while he gets the hype surrounding the rook, he came to the Windy City to lead a football team, not to watch someone else do it.
After Chicago’s first preseason game, a 20-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins on August 14, Fields’ performance (he went 14-20 for 142 yards and two total touchdowns in seven possessions) ignited fans and analysts alike, with many urging head coach Matt Nagy and the team to let the rookie start Week 1 in prime time against the L.A. Rams.
When asked about the fan reaction to Fields, Dalton had a strong response.
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Dalton Responds to Fan Reaction to Fields
When asked if it was hard on him to sit and listen to the applause Fields was receiving, Dalton said this: “I mean,” he said with a chuckle, “The thing is, there’s so much excitement with Justin, deservedly so. He’s a first-round pick, and just with everything that’s gone on here, there’s a lot of excitement with it. But I didn’t feel like there wasn’t excitement for me, either. I think for us, as long as we go out and operate like we know we can do, I think the fans will be excited when we score lots of touchdowns this year.”
The Chicago Tribune’s Dan Wiederer followed up, asking Dalton how he gets around all the awkwardness that must come with all the buzz and fervor surrounding Fields. This was the 33-year-old QBs response:
“Yeah, I mean, you can’t focus on that. If you focus on that, then that’s going to beat you down, so I know who I am, I know who I was created to be, I know where my identity lies. Do I want the fans behind me and this team and all that kind of stuff? Yes. Do I want them behind Justin? Absolutely, I do. But that’s not my focus. I can’t focus on all that right now. Like I’ve said before, Justin’s gonna have his time, and Justin’s gonna have a great career. But right now, it’s my time, and so my focus is on being the best player I can be for this team and do everything I can to help this team win.”
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Dalton: ‘I’m Here for a Reason’
The veteran signal-caller also noted that his experience has helped give him better perspective.
“I’ve been through a ton in my career, and so I think all the experiences that I’ve gone through have helped me get to this point right now. I know that I’m supposed to be on this team. I know that I’m a big leader on this team and I know God has put me in this spot for a reason,” Dalton added.
Dalton’s insistence that now is his time reminded some, including analyst Dov Kleiman, of another not-so-distant Bears QB competition, when rookie Mitch Trubisky was chomping at veteran Mike Glennon’s heels, back in 2017. We all know how that turned out — we’ll see if history repeats itself.
You can watch Dalton’s full interview below: