The Justin Fields era in Chicago will have to wait.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy told reporters Andy Dalton will start at quarterback when the team begins the regular season on Sept. 12 at the Los Angeles Rams. Dalton will sit out Saturday’s final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, while Fields will get the start and receive more reps with the first-team offense.
"I think it's going to be a good opportunity for Justin, and then you know, we'll be selective across the board for the other players as we go,” said Nagy, who expects some of the other starters to sit on Saturday. “But you're going to see a direction of more kind of like the old-school fourth preseason game for that.”
At Illinois sports betting sites, the Bears are between a 1.5- and 2.5-point underdog against the Titans.
Fans have pushed for Fields to start after he experienced moderate success so far. The No. 11 pick in the draft recorded 175 all-purpose yards against Miami and scored two touchdowns in his first preseason game. Against Buffalo, he completed 9 of 19 passes for 80 yards and ran for 46 yards on four carries.
"We feel really good with where Justin is at," Nagy said. "I would say for sure that for his level of where a lot of rookies are at this point in time, he passed that test.
"So that's a good thing; we know that. But now, it's just growth for every one of these quarterbacks, Justin included.”
Dalton hasn’t done much to convince the Chicago fanbase he can be a capable starter. Against Miami, he completed just 2 of 4 passes for 18 yards. He showed some improvement versus Buffalo, converting on 11 of 17 passes for 146 yards and one touchdown and an interception. Dalton’s highlight came on a 73-yard touchdown to Rodney Adams.
"We just feel really good about our quarterback room right now," Nagy said. "We feel really good, and that's a credit to these players that are in that room. It's a credit to our coaches that are coaching them, and now when we get an opportunity Week 1, as a unit, as a team, all three phases, we've got to put it together and go play Chicago Bear football."
Fields a Favorite for Rookie of the Year
Dalton may be starting the season for the Bears, but with the hype surrounding Fields and the pressure Nagy could face to play the rookie, it may be only a matter of time before Fields has control of the offense.
Sportsbooks believe Fields’ time will come this season. At DraftKings, he currently has the second-best odds to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award (+600). Only Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (+350) is ahead of Fields on the betting board.
DraftKings IL also gives the edge to Fields in the Offensive Player of the Year award, listing him at +20000 to be named the league’s top offensive player, edging out Dalton at +25000.
The uncertainty around the quarterback position has the Bears near the bottom of the futures betting boards for those interested in Illinois gambling. Chicago is +6500 to win the Super Bowl at DraftKings, and the team has the second-worst odds to win the NFC North division at +550. The Bears are +210 to make the playoffs on DraftKings, while their regular-season win total is set at 7.5.