By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — Justin Fields may unquestionably be the future starter of the Chicago Bears, but head coach Matt Nagy is standing by his plan to use veteran free agent addition Andy Dalton as the team’s starting quarterback to begin the season.

“Andy is our starter,” Nagy told Pro Football Focus’ Cris Collinsworth in a podcast interview.

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Even though the Bears drafted Fields with the 11th pick of the NFL Draft, Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace have maintained all along that Dalton, who was signed in free agency before the draft, will be first on the depth chart to start 2021.

Nagy did leave the door open for that to change if something unforeseen happens between now and Week 1.

“I can’t predict anything. Again, I can’t predict anything. You know how it goes. I mean, there’s so many things that can happen between today and that week one, but that’s … Andy is our starter, and Justin’s our number two, and we’re gonna stick to this plan,” Nagy said.

Dalton was serviceable while starting in place of the injured Dak Prescott for the Dallas Cowboys last year, completing 65 percent of his passes for 2,170 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Still, with Dalton playing on a one-year deal, it’s only a matter of time before Fields is named the Bears’ starting QB, perhaps sometime later in the season.

A similar scenario played out the last time the Bears drafted a quarterback, with the Bears proclaiming free-agent addition Mike Glennon as the starting QB ahead of the 2017 season despite spending the No. 2 pick on Mitchell Trubisky. It wasn’t long into the season before Trubisky took over.

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While Trubisky showed flashes of excellent play over the next few seasons, he never lived up to the hype that comes with being a No. 2 draft pick and is now a backup with the Buffalo Bills.

Fields is undoubtedly the most accomplished quarterback the Bears have drafted in ages, if not ever. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019 and the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year each of his two seasons at Ohio State after transferring from Georgia.

In his time at Ohio State, Fields was one of the best college quarterbacks in the country, completing 68.4 percent of his passes with a 9.3 yards per attempt. He threw for 63 touchdowns and only nine interceptions, adding 867 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.

In both seasons as the starter in Columbus, Fields led the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff, putting up elite numbers in the 2021 game against Clemson, with 385 yards and six touchdowns, despite playing with a rib injury.

The Bears are counting on Fields to deliver in a way Mitchell Trubisky never did after being drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in 2017, and to solidify a position that has historically been a sore spot for them.

Last week, the Bears signed Fields to a four-year contract.

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The Bears opted not to exercise their fifth-year option on Trubisky for 2021 prior to last season. He then got benched in favor of veteran Nick Foles for part of the year and wound up signing with Buffalo to back up Josh Allen.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff