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Deciphering What's What in Conflicting Reports on Bears' Starting QB Situation

There have been conflicting reports regarding the Bears' starting QB. Here is a breakdown of the comments and possible outcomes.
Bears Starting QB

There have been some conflicting reports regarding the Chicago Bears starting QB situation as of late. Yesterday, a report from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio indicated that the Bears have promised Andy Dalton that he be the Week 1 starter at quarterback.

“Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Bears already have promised quarterback Andy Dalton that he will start the season as the starting quarterback,” Florio writes.

The report then references a quote from Dalton as evidence:

“I knew the situation I was going into, regardless of if they drafted somebody or didn’t. I was on a one-year deal and I was going to be the starter.”

The reality of the situation is that there is not much meaning to pull from that Dalton quote. The Bears told Dalton that he would be the starter, but Charles Leno was also a starter until they drafted Teven Jenkins. It's also important to keep in mind that Florio’s source for this report is noted as ”a source with knowledge of the situation”.

Conflicting Reports

It was only days ago that ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler mentioned that Justin Fields could win the starting job prior to Week 1:

“This offseason the Bears assessed their situation and said, ‘Look, we’ve been an 8-8 team, we just need an upgrade at quarterback that can get us closer to 10 wins.’ They felt Andy Dalton did that. They said, ‘Hey, we can win 10 games with this guy, he’s a slight upgrade at the position.’ But then they had the chance at Justin Fields, crazy athlete, great ability. They said, ‘OK, this is the long-term play.'"

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"Now, if Fields is just undeniable over the next three to four months in training camp, they’re not going to just sit him just for fun or posterity just to play the veteran. So they’re going to give him the best chance, but they’re OK sitting Fields if Dalton has a good grasp on the job and they feel like they can win with him. So, they believe they’re going to be better regardless. It just depends on whether Fields is ready Week 1."

Further, Dan Graziano (ESPN) noted in that segment:

“They’re not averse to the idea of Fields winning the job, but he has to do it in training camp. They won’t just sit him because he’s a rookie. They’re open to the possibility he beats out Andy Dalton and wins the job.”

So, we have some conflicting reports on the Bears' starting quarterback between ESPN and Pro Football Talk. However, this is not the first time that Florio and ESPN have butted heads. Florio has had multiple direct issues with Adam Schefter, Todd McShay, and Jason Whitlock, among others over at ESPN.

With that in mind, let's take a look at how similar camp disputes have settled in the past.

QB Camp Battles

We are looking at every first-round QB drafted between 2015 and 2020. Below, you can see who the competing QB on the roster was that year. Also shown, is how many games that QB had started in the last two years and what their EPA/Play was for those two years. Finally, we come around to when the rookie QB made his first start.

QB situations deemed most similar to the Bears' current QB situation are highlighted in green.

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The Bears QB Possibilities

  • The most similar QB situations seem to point to Fields making his first start sometime between Week 1 and Week 4.
  • Only one of the five similar QBs made his first start beyond Week 4 (Dwayne Haskins).
  • I personally believe that either Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold would be the most similar situations as far as the roster situation goes.
  • Cleveland brought in Tyrod Taylor as a free agent to start ahead of Baker Mayfield. Taylor was a borderline starter who had some success in his career but was declining in play. Mayfield entered mid-game in Week 2 and never gave the job back to Taylor.
  • Darnold was the only QB included among the most similar situations who started Week 1. Josh McCown had started the majority of the season for the Jets the year prior. He was a borderline starter as well who was declining in his physical abilities.