Bears rookie QB Justin Fields can study from Andy Dalton with out turning into him


The Bears need Justin Fields to study from Andy Dalton. They simply don’t need him to grow to be Dalton.

There’s an enormous distinction between the 2 as coach Matt Nagy handles the duties of getting Dalton able to be his starter this season and growing Fields because the franchise quarterback the group has coveted for many years.

His template for this undertaking is the one the Chiefs used with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes in 2017, when Nagy was the offensive coordinator underneath Andy Reid. In the identical manner that the Chiefs anticipated Mahomes to far exceed the excessive finish of what they might get from Smith, the Bears want Fields — finally — to be rather a lot higher than Dalton.

“Justin’s going to be Justin, little doubt about it,” Nagy mentioned when requested concerning the folly of making an attempt to show Fields into Dalton. “However they’re going to study from one another, and the little issues that I’m seeing within the assembly room and out right here at follow, it actually does remind me of [Smith and Mahomes].”

Nagy is assured that’s the finest path and would favor to stay with Dalton for the complete season. It labored for Mahomes. It labored for Aaron Rodgers, who sat his first three seasons with the Packers. There are additionally examples of rookies — Justin Herbert and Baker Mayfield, simply in the previous couple of seasons — taking part in properly straight away.

Mahomes’ lone begin as a rookie was a meaningless regular-season finale through which he threw for 284 yards with an interception and no touchdowns. He received the MVP the subsequent season. Then he received the Tremendous Bowl. Then he signed a $500 million contract.

“For him to have the ability to develop like that and study from Alex and develop, he would in all probability inform you it was a reasonably good factor,” Nagy mentioned. “If he would have performed sooner, would he have accomplished what he did the next yr? Perhaps. We don’t know that. However I might guess it helped him.”

Dalton is an affordable equal of Smith because the Bears attempt to replicate what the Chiefs did. He’s not nice, however stable. Not explosive, however savvy. He’s making an attempt to increase his personal profession, however glad to be a mentor.

The Bengals spent 9 seasons making an attempt to determine if Dalton was ok and, after a collective 87.5 passer score and nil playoff wins, they finally determined he wasn’t. Even at his finest, he wasn’t the dynamic menace that Fields is projected to be. Fields walked within the door with a superior deep ball and harmful working capacity, placing him miles forward bodily earlier than his first step onto the follow area. As soon as he’s prepared, the Bears need Fields taking part in a distinct recreation completely.

Dalton, in his eleventh season and some months away from turning 34, is right here to be protected and dependable. These are helpful qualities in a quarterback, however it can solely take the Bears to date. Even when every thing goes their manner this season, it’s onerous to think about them doing higher than a wild-card spot with Dalton beginning.

There’s nonetheless goal, although, in Fields learning his each transfer over the subsequent a number of months. Loads of Dalton’s data is common, and Fields can apply it in his personal manner.

“How are you responding to creating a very good play [versus] throwing an interception, per se?” Nagy mentioned, starting a guidelines of rookie classes for Fields. “The largest factor that Justin can study from Andy is simply understanding the defenses that he’s seeing.

“So [Dalton is] going to assist him develop . . . Justin, he’s obtained to see Andy’s cadence — what he’s doing together with his voice inflection, the way in which he says ‘White 80,’ versus the way in which Justin says it on the line of scrimmage. After which, after all, how you can deal with teammates.”

Fields has already gotten a fast class on that final topic throughout organized group actions.

He and Dalton not too long ago had been in a gathering with Nagy and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo as they broke down follow movie. Nagy, DeFilippo, offensive coordinator Invoice Lazor and numerous different assistants all have particular roles within the Fields undertaking, as do Dalton and fellow veteran Nick Foles. DeFilippo zeroes in on mechanics, and on this specific clip, he disregarded a powerful throw by Fields and harped on his defective footwork as a substitute.

When DeFilippo completed, Dalton turned to Fields and reassured him, “Hey, dude, that was a hell of a throw proper there.”

That appears small, but it surely’s important. Fields is 22 and spent the final a number of months listening to analysts and scouts nitpick his mechanics. It’s why he slid from being the consensus second-best quarterback in school soccer to being the fourth one drafted, going to the Bears at No. 11 general.

To listen to one in every of his new coaches pile it on, even when he’s appropriate, was in all probability daunting. To see Dalton — the person whose job he’s making an attempt to take, no much less — have his again had to assist.

“For him, it’s all new,” Dalton mentioned final week. “I’m making an attempt to provide him recommendation on sure issues, how I might view sure performs, what I’d do with my eyes on sure issues, various things that include expertise. I’m going into 12 months 11. I’ve had a number of ball. I’m simply making an attempt to assist him out as a lot as I can.”

All of that info is beneficial for Fields, and he’s able to studying from Dalton’s play with out mimicking it. He can take the instruments Dalton provides him and construct a totally completely different home, identical to Mahomes did.

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