October 25, 2021

While Justin Fields learns the ropes, Andy Dalton is ready to go right now

Nagy: Dalton has ‘full control of this offense’

LAKE FOREST – Justin Fields’ first series in 7-on-7 competition Monday didn’t go well. There were several incompletions, including two deep balls he failed to connect with his receiver.

As Fields stepped off the field during Bears training camp, veteran Andy Dalton gave him some advice.

“I wasn’t doing too well in 7-on-7,” Fields said. “I was trying to go downfield too much, so he was just telling me to take what the defense gives me. I’m always going to stay aggressive. But Andy has taught me a lot of stuff.”

Fields settled down Monday and looked good the remainder of the day. The highlight might’ve been a deep pass to Javon Wims down the left sideline for a touchdown in 11-on-11. Wims beat his defender 1-on-1, and Fields hit him in stride.

The Bears’ defense didn’t utilize the “takeaway bucket” much Monday, which was a good sign for Fields and Dalton. Training camp will step it up another notch Tuesday, when the Bears break out their full pads for the first time. The team practices at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Soldier Field for the team’s family fest.

While third-string quarterback Nick Foles stole the headlines with what could be interpreted as a desire to move on from the team, the Bears very much are focused on what Dalton and Fields bring to the table.

Dalton is looking cool, calm and collected in the starting quarterback position. He has been accurate in the passing game. His deep ball has been better than what Foles or Mitch Trubisky showed in training camp last year. Plus he’s taking what the defense gives him, as he advised Fields to do.

Coach Matt Nagy noted that if the Bears played a game tomorrow, Dalton would be ready to roll.

“He’s got full control of this offense, without a doubt,” Nagy said.

Although it’s a new team and a new offense, Dalton already has found his stride.

“For me, I’ve been a part of so many different systems that there is not many plays that are new to me,” Dalton said. “I’m very confident with what we have and got going. It’s about building that chemistry during camp and being ready for Week 1.”

As for Fields, Nagy feels his rookie quarterback has gotten better at his pre-snap assignments, calling plays and such. What comes next is recognizing what’s going on after the ball is snapped.

“Things change, right?” Nagy said. “Disguised coverages. They hide their blitzes. Knowing where your protection calls are, being on the same page as the center. That’s where, now when things get real and you start putting the pads on and the tempo picks up and you’re playing, now we want to see him execute plays and play fast.”

Fields’ speed was apparent Monday. When he scrambles from the pocket and hits top gear, he can eat up yards in a hurry. He showed a well-executed slide, too, which he said comes from his baseball experience.

Fields noted that a hard hit he took against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals taught him just how important that slide is for a QB. Fields had to exit that game briefly and suffered a rib injury that bothered him in the championship game against Alabama.

“The hit hurt so much, every time I run now, I just think of that hit, and I’m not trying to take a hit like that again,” Fields said. “So I definitely get out of bounds or get down.”

Injury report: Bears rookie receiver Dazz Newsome (collarbone) returned to the practice field Monday in a limited capacity. Wims (ankle) also was limited Monday. Wims had his ankle stepped on during practice Saturday. Safety Tashaun Gipson injured his groin during warmups Monday and did not return to practice.

Offensive tackle Teven Jenkins (back) remains out but is progressing in the right direction, Nagy said. Safety Eddie Jackson (hamstring) has yet to practice.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.