LAKE FOREST – Bears coach Matt Nagy said Monday morning that veteran quarterback Andy Dalton will start if he’s healthy in Week 5 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Dalton has missed two full games after injuring his knee in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields finished the Bengals game and started the next two games, a loss to Cleveland in Week 3 and a win over Detroit on Sunday.
Nagy said the Bears plan on giving an update on Dalton’s status by Wednesday.
“Like we said this whole time, when Andy’s healthy, he’s our starter,” Nagy said. “He’s the one. Justin’s the two. [Nick Foles is] the three. What’s been great about these last couple weeks is Justin’s had the opportunity to play and get significant snaps and he’s grown from it. Now we’ve just got to see, where’s Andy’s health at?
“Honestly, the next two days will be revealing to us. Once that happens and we get a feel for where he is, then we as coaches decide, OK where are we at right now? How do we feel he is, percentage-wise, to be able to go into that game as the starter?”
Fields struggled mightily in the Week 3 loss to the Browns but rebounded to throw for 209 yards on 11-of-17 passing with an interception against the Lions. The Bears beat the Lions, 24-14, on Sunday at Soldier Field.
It wasn’t an amazing game in the stat book, but it passed the eye test. Fields connected on a deep 64-yard pass to receiver Darnell Mooney to set the tone in the first quarter. Fields averaged 12.3 yards per pass attempt and allowed only one sack. His interception was a tipped pass and wasn’t his fault.
Considering he was coming off a Week 3 game in which he totaled only 68 passing yards, the win over the Lions was a nice rebound performance for the Bears and the rookie.
“What was the key?” Fields said Sunday. “Just getting back to what we do. That wasn’t us last week. That was one of the worst performances almost in Bears history. So that’s not how we play. We’re just happy to see us getting back on track this weekend. Execute. From the O-line to the receivers to me. It was good.”
Nagy has said since the team drafted Fields that Dalton would be the starter. Dalton’s knee injury made the choice easy for Nagy during the past two weeks. Now, if Dalton is healthy, Nagy will have to put his plan to the test.
At least as of Monday, Nagy said Dalton is the starter, if healthy. But it’s hard to envision Dalton making some of the throws that Fields did against the Lions. If Dalton really does start ahead of Fields, the question becomes, for how long?
It’s possible, too, that Dalton’s knee will continue to make it an easy choice. But at a certain point, Nagy is going to have to choose Fields or Dalton. As of Monday, he’s sticking with the veteran – at least publicly.
“I just appreciate that there’s a lot of great things that [Fields has] done, there’s a lot of things that he can learn from,” Nagy said. “And Andy’s also, it’s important to see that Andy’s done a good job as well. It’s unfortunate when he got hurt. ... I give credit to both of those quarterbacks because, right now, they’re both doing a great job.”
Nagy declined to provide any updates on injured running backs David Montgomery and Damien Williams or injured defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. All three were hurt in Sunday’s win. Nagy said the Bears should know more in the next day or so.
Hicks injured his groin on the game’s first possession. Montgomery injured his knee late in the game. Montgomery could miss time, but the injury is not believed to be serious, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported. Williams injured his thigh. Rapoport reported Williams’ injury is a thigh bruise and he should be OK.