With the preseason over and Week 1 looming, the Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley answers the Bears’ biggest questions:
I expect Andy Dalton to …
Be refreshingly competent in Week 1. Dalton won’t be fooled often; he has started more games than Nick Foles, Mitch Trubisky, Mike Glennon and Chase Daniel combined. Bears fans used to seeing Trubisky throw short of the sticks on third down should appreciate a quarterback knowing where the ball goes, and when. That won’t stop them from calling for Justin Fields after any failed third down, though. And it won’t stop a starter change if the Bears decide their blocking and run-game issues need a boost from a mobile quarterback.
When will Justin Fields play his first snap?
After the draft, I said the second half in Week 9, the game before their bye. After hearing the Bears change their tune about his readiness during camp, give me the second half of Week 5. The Bears will be 2-2; at risk of losing to the Raiders, they’ll go to the bullpen for a spark.
Do you trust Matt Nagy?
To run the ball consistently or avoid a long losing streak? No. The franchise-defining question, though, is whether I trust him to develop a quarterback from scratch. His resume says he can — tutoring future Hall of Famer Patrick Mahomes in his redshirt year helped him land a head-coaching job. Fields’ development seems pointed in the right direction.
The Bears’ roster is still missing …
A cornerback they can believe in. The team is high on Jaylon Johnson after 13 rookie starts, but Kindle Vildor (one career start) and some combination of Duke Shelley (two) and Marqui Christian (one) in the slot give them one of the NFL’s most unproven cornerback rooms. If Johnson gets hurt, watch out.
Which injured player will they miss the most?
I’m not sure Danny Trevathan is much better than Alec Ogletree at this point. But he’s the most respected member of the locker room — “The leader of the team,” safety Tashaun Gipson said — and the Bears will be better with him in uniform.
Which defensive player is under the most pressure?
Coaches and players say no one is harder on Robert Quinn than the man himself. The pressure is squarely on him after he signed a five-year, $70 million contract last year and sacked the quarterback only twice. If the defense is going to be dangerous again, he needs 10.
I feel better/worse about the Bears than I did Day 1 of camp.
A bit better. Questions about the offensive line and cornerbacks are disturbingly unanswered. If Fields is as good as he has shown he can be during camp, though, he’ll help hide problems and raise the Bears’ ceiling higher than it would be with Dalton. But he’s got to actually play first.