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First Team Going Forward for Justin Fields

Andy Dalton is now the backup quarterback officially despite being over his knee injury as Bears coach Matt Nagy and staff have seen enough to change the depth chart.

Matt Nagy relented.

So much for the Bears coach insisting Andy Dalton remains the team's No. 1 quarterback.

Just 48 hours after he insisted this for the umpteenth time, Nagy came before the media at Halas Hall Wednesday and announced the official start of the Justin Fields era in Chicago.

The decision had been brewing through talks among coaches at Halas Hall.  Nagy told Dalton and Fields on Tuesday that he was moving Fields into the starting spot going forward regardless of Dalton's injured knee. The knee has healed, and Dalton was back at practice Wednesday in his new status as backup.

"I told you the last couple weeks we've had some good conversations internally," Nagy said. "It's helped us in the last couple weeks. Continuing that process this week it's led to making the decision to move with Justin as the starter.

"You know we've been patient with this. We've grown with him. We're proud of Justin. He's been a great teammate from the very beginning."

The plan had always been for Dalton to start and Fields would eventually become starter when it became obvious to everyone he should. It's obvious.

"You see when he got here in OTAs, we weren't sure how it was gonna be," Nagy said. "When he showed up in training camp, we weren't sure how it was gonna be, and he showed us that he was ready to take that step. We got to the preseason, albeit whoever he's playing against, he showed us that he's ready to go out there and make plays.

"And then when we got to the season as the backup, he was showing us. As we said, inspire your teammates when you're out there. When you're out there as a look-team quarterback, inspire your teammates. Make others better. And so he did that."

The last step was getting the chance to prove himself while Dalton was sitting after the second quarter of the Week 2 win over Cincinnati.

"Then he gets, unfortunately an opportunity through Andy's health to go out there and play and he goes in as the backup that game, the game with Cincy, then he plays in the game against Cleveland and now he's bounced back from that," Nagy said. "But really, not just the last week or two, but this whole entire time, we've seen incremental growth."

Nagy said this isn't flip-flop time.

"No, this is Justin's time," Nagy said.

And this includes if Fields goes out and comes away a big loser in Vegas.

"Like I think the biggest thing for us is to understand that it’s not going to be perfect," Nagy said. "Justin knows that, right? We all understand. There’s going to be some times where things happen, but we’ve got to continue to stay positive."

Fields accepted the news with his usual stoic personna.

"I would say I was a little bit surprised, but I mean, not really crazy surprised but definitely a little bit of surprise," Fields said. "I feel like he was pretty straightforward with me and Andy.

"And I think my teammates believe in me, so just grateful for the opportunity and just trying to get ready to work."

The Bears say Dalton took the announcement with class, though Dalton didn't speak on Wednesday.

"When you are told that news you are allowed to feel how you want to feel," Nagy said. "Some people don’t have that next level where they can still be a great teammate and great person. Is it easy for him right now? No."

Dalton will simply have to be ready as the backup now.

"One thing that he has earned from me and our coaches is a hell of a lot of respect, because that guy is a freaking stud," Nagy said. "I'm so glad he is on our team and I appreciate the way he understood it and the way he handled it but he also cares immensely about this team and I appreciate that."

Fields didn't take time to celebrate the big announcement Tuesday night.

"My parents were actually at my house last night," Fields said. "I told them. They wanted to go out to celebrate and I just told them, 'Nah. I'm cool.' Because I'm trying to win this weekend.

"Of course there's some reason to celebrate, but I'm not just going to be complacent with where I'm at. I'm going to continue to grow, continue to get better and just try to work hard each and every day to get good wins on Sundays."

Fields wasn't sure where his parents went.

"But yeah, they went out without me," he said. "I was just home with my dog, Uno, watching film last night. So that's all I was doing."

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven