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Andy Dalton's Wild Ride

One week Andy Dalton has been up riding high as starter, then it's either an injury or COVID-19 or Justin Fields causing him to sit, but he says he'll be ready to face the New York Giants Sunday at Soldier Field.

So much for building chemistry between a quarterback and his receivers.

The Bears have gone from Andy Dalton to Justin Fields, to Dalton, to Fields, to Nick Foles and now back to Dalton this year as they face the New York Giants Sunday with their opening day starter playing in Week 17.

"Well I think you know the ideal situation is to have one guy the whole year and he's building that chemistry with everybody throughout the season but, that hasn't been the case," Dalton said after coach Matt Nagy named him starter Friday to face the New York Giants on Sunday. "I think you just, there's a lot of time that I had with these guys in camp and OTA's at the start of the year so there's been, there's still that chemistry there but everybody would say the ideal situation is that everybody knows who the starter is and he's playing the whole year."

Dalton threw four interceptions against Arizona in his last start on Dec. 5. In that one, he suffered a left hand injury, then went on the reserve/COVID-19 list, then last week appeared like he might start but suffered a hip-flexor injury. The Bears called it a groin injury last week.

"It's been a whirlwind with everything," Dalton said. "You know to break my hand in the first quarter of the Arizona game to just you know, just having the hip-flexor injury just kind of popping out of nowhere, and you throw COVID in the mix of all of that, it's kind of been a crazy month for me.

"But I feel good about where I'm at now and my body feels healthy and so I'm happy to be where I'm at now rather than where I was a few weeks ago."

Fields had a bout with COVID-19 with Dallas last year.

"Two for two with COVID, unfortunately, back-to-back years," he said. "Last year, I felt way worse than this year. Thankfully, it wasn't too bad for me this year. I was able to get back quicker than whatever the 10-day protocol was at the time. I'm thankful for that."

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It's possible Fields will get back for the season final with Minnesota, and it's all going to be a matter of pain management.

"The pain of the football movements, just as he's continuing to get back," coach Matt Nagy said. "It's one thing to be able to get back there and drop and take a handoff, a stretch handoff and hand the ball off and set up for a pass and different things like that, but we want to be able to have him do everything. And he wants that, too, whether it’s scrambling outside of the pocket, extending plays with his legs, whatever it is.

"The package that he brings, we want him to be as close to 100% as we can get, and he’s just not there right now. That's the decision where we're all at. We all feel good about it and we're going from there."

So much for the grand plan. Nagy recalled how it all began with the thought Dalton would start until it became obvious to everyone Fields had developed enough to be the starter.

"You could look at that two different ways," he said. "We go into this season with a plan of Andy being the starter and Justin developing and really watching how this happens, but always being ready, and that didn't happen. We understand that. That's football.

"Andy getting injured forced Justin to go in there and play, and he did a good job showing us that he is ready and that he's gonna learn. So we look at all of these plays that he's had this year, because he is able to handle it, both mentally and physically, as a positive. This is a part of football, when you get hurt, so he's done a really good job of trying to do everything he can to gut through any of the injuries or hurts that you have to be able to get more playing time, and that’s the goal right now with him. And I do think that he's close."

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