Andy Dalton is saying all the right things. The veteran quarterback for the Chicago Bears met with the media for the first time since the team moved up in the NFL Draft to select Justin Fields 11th overall.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy spoke to Dalton before drafting the former Ohio State quarterback to avoid any potential resentment or issues, and the heads up certainly didn’t hurt.
“Yeah, I’ve had a lot of different conversations with everybody here. I knew there was a possibility of it, so when it happened, it is what it is,” Dalton said June 2. “Justin is a great guy. Getting to know him the last couple weeks, being around him, he’s going to make the quarterback room better.”
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Dalton is Still Slated to Start
Dalton, who is entering his 11th NFL season, spent his first nine years as a starter with the Cincinnati Bengals before moving on to the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. Initially intended to be the backup for Dak Prescott, Dalton was forced to take over quarterbacking duties when Prescott went down in early October with a broken ankle. He wound up starting nine games for the Cowboys last season, completing 64.9 percent of his passes for 2,170 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Nagy and Pace have both gone on record saying the Red Rifle will start next season, and Nagy confirmed on June 2 that Dalton has been taking first-team snaps. Thus, Dalton is entering the situation prepared to lead this team.
“I knew the situation I was going into regardless of whether they drafted somebody or if they didn’t. I was on a one-year deal and I was going to be the starter. So my mindset didn’t have to change,” Dalton said. “I already knew I was going to do everything I can to be the best player I can for this team and to help us win a lot of football games. And that’s been my goal from the very beginning, so whatever happens after this year happens. But my mindset didn’t change just because they drafted Justin.”
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Dalton: I’m Going to Be a Mentor to Fields
Dalton also seems keen on the idea of being a mentor to Fields, and when asked about mentorship specifically, he said it’s a role he enjoys playing. “Absolutely. It’s just the position I’m in. Everybody should enjoy it. You know, all our experiences in our lives are for us and other people. You’re just trying to pass that along.”
The veteran quarterback also revealed a bit about what kind of information he has been sharing with the 22-year-old Fields.
“Right now for him, it’s all-new, first time getting in an NFL offense. I’m trying to give him advice on certain things: How I would view certain plays, what I’d do with my eyes on certain things, different things that come with experience. Obviously, I’m going into Year 11. I’ve had a lot of ball. For me, I’m just trying to help him out a much as I can.”
Together with Nick Foles, the Bears have quite the assemblage of athletes in the quarterbacks room.
“We’ve got a great room,” Dalton added. “That’s one thing that’s been cool. I didn’t know Justin before this. I knew Nick a little bit coming into this with two guys from Texas. I knew who he was in high school, all that stuff. So it’s been fun for me to get to be around him and follow his career from afar. We’ve talked some. To finally get to be in the same room has been great. It’s a great room. Nick and I both are trying to share our experiences with Justin, just trying to help him.”
So far, it sounds as though things have started off on the right foot in the Windy City. Bears fans sure hope it continues.