It seems the whole city of Chicago is excited for Justin Fields to start his first game in the NFL. Even Matt Nagy admitted he’s eager to see what the rookie can do with this new opportunity. However it’s important to note, that none of this is an indictment on Andy Dalton, or the way he’s played this season. In fact, a group of Bears fans on Reddit have organized a donation drive to show their appreciation for the job that Dalton has done up to this point as the team’s starter.
“Let’s donate $14 each to thank Andy for giving us his all!” the post on /r/CHIBears says.
The original post directed fans to donate the money to Dalton’s own charity, the Andy and JJ Dalton Foundation, which is dedicated to providing “support, resources and experiences to seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families.”
Comments came through in support of the idea, a small token to demonstrate there’s no beef with Dalton among fans, while supporting a good cause too.
“The dude hurt himself playing for us and now is cheering on justin and you can tell it's genuine,” said user friendpalbuddyguy. “Good to be positive about things instead of always negative!”
“This is a great idea,” said Jaycth. “Let's show our appreciation for a guy who has been nothing but a class act for us!”
“Least we can do,” said psychicmachinery. “Andy's a good human.”
There’s plenty of appreciation for Dalton inside Halas Hall too. By all accounts he has been an incredible teammate in an awkward situation, and has both impressed in the QB room and as a mentor for Fields. While the team is excited for Fields to play, the team also feels bad that his opportunity had to come this way, with an injury. Fields himself said that it “sucks.”
“There’s a human element when you play sports and these relationships that we all build,” Nagy said. “When you deal with these guys every single day, not just in this building here but outside of the building. You get to meet their families and you get to know who they are as a person and you build that trust. It’s not just Andy, there are other guys too. But his situation, that’s real. You feel for him. But you also know how he’s going to react, which is what he’s doing, which is being a true pro and being very supportive.”
After a Week 1 performance in which the entire team looked out of whack, Dalton showed signs of getting the offense back on track in Week 2. They were moving the ball better than they have in back-to-back games, arguably in years, and Dalton was a big part of that.
So far this year he has completed 73.5% of his passes for 262 yards, plus a touchdown and an interception. Would you believe me if I told you that Dalton also has four more rushing yards (38) than Fields does (34), and he’s done it on seven fewer carries (4 vs. 11)?
But this is the NFL. There’s no time to live in the past, or worry about injuries. It’s next man up, as always. It’s just that this time the next man up might be the Bears’ next franchise quarterback.