Bears offseason review: Justin Fields, Andy Dalton, Allen Robinson and more

The biggest surprise about Fields; Is Dalton an upgrade over Nick Foles? Will Robinson sign a long-term deal? And a look at the biggest concern heading into training camp.

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Bears quarterback Andy Dalton (14) works with center Dieter Eiselen (60) during mini-camp Wednesday.

Nam Y. Huh, AP Photos

Minicamp is over, and the Bears will be off until late next month when they open training camp and begin urgent preparations for this season. Until then, here are seven big questions they face:

How did Andy Dalton look this spring? 

It was only in shorts and without pads, but Dalton looked the part of 10-year starting NFL quarterback on the back side of his career — a quarterback capable of taking advantage of a strong supporting cast. An upgrade over Nick Foles? Probably. But we never saw Foles in a similar scenario with the Bears because of the coronavirus. And Foles also was put in a worst-case scenario with a deteriorating offensive line. So even that’s not a sure thing. 

What surprised me the most about Justin Fields in practice was …

The touch on his throws. At least in a relatively non-competitive situation of offseason practices, Fields showed an ability to put the ball where only his receiver can get it. And — perhaps contrary to scouting reports — he reacts quickly to opportunity. When the play is there he hits it — where other quarterbacks might hesitate for a split-second and lose the opportunity. 

Matt Nagy’s quarterback plan is ... 

What it is. Giving Andy Dalton the best chance to succeed as he learns a new system is fair. So Dalton getting all of the first-team reps with Justin Fields on the roster is more prudent than coaching malpractice. If I’m reading between the lines correctly, if Fields shows promise in the preseason, Dalton will have to be pretty good to keep the job. Matt Nagy’s standard will be key once the regular season begins. 

The Bears’ defensive starters no-showing OTAs was ….

No big deal. You could see it as an affront to rookie coordinator Sean Desai — or a show of unity if you’re an optimist. In reality, the NFL Players Association’s weak attempt to flex muscle it doesn’t have played out reasonably: the offense that needed the work showed up; the defense that knows the scheme, did not. Desai is tweaking the defense, not overhauling it. The on-field work the players missed shouldn’t make a difference. 

What is the Bears’ biggest concern heading into camp?

Almost regardless of the quarterback, do the Bears have an offense? Do they have an offensive scheme? Do they have an offensive play-caller who can outwit the opposing defensive play-caller? On defense, will nose tackle Eddie Goldman be there? Will Robert Quinn be healthy? But the biggest issue is Matt Nagy’s offense. 

Will Allen Robinson get his contract extension by the July 15 deadline?

Doubtful. The Bears just don’t seem to value Robinson as much as everybody else does. He’s the biggest play-maker on an offense desperate for play-makers. He is the embodiment of the cherished culture at Halas Hall — on and off the field. Considering Ryan Pace’s history of signing players who have earned long-term deals, it’s mystifying why Robinson wasn’t first in line. But also telling.

Lakefront or Arlington Heights?

All things being equal, the Bears should be playing in Chicago, preferably by the lakefront. But if the choice is a state-of-the-art stadium in Arlington Heights or antiquated Soldier Field on the lakefront, the suburbs would be the better option. 

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