LAKE FOREST – It’s a situation that he’s getting used to even if it was one that was quite unfamiliar through the first nine years of his career.
For the second time in as many seasons, Andy Dalton is getting used to a new team after spending nearly a decade with the Bengals. In 2020, it was with the Cowboys, and a year later it’s in Chicago with the Bears.
It’s safe to say the quarterback’s ready for the adjustment to a new team a little more in 2021.
“The first time going to a new spot, having to learn new people where I was last year. So I think just having that experience of knowing kinda how to navigate that has definitely helped out,” said Dalton of getting adjusted to the Bears this season.
But there are differences from that one year in Dallas and this upcoming season for the veteran signal caller on a few different levels. For one, he won’t be coming in as the backup like in 2020, when he was sitting behind Dak Prescott for part of the season.
Of course, it didn’t play out that way, with the starter suffering a compound righ ankle fracture and dislocation in Week 5 against the Giants. Dalton finished that game and would start the rest of the season, going 4-5 for the Cowboys who would finish 6-10 on the season.
In 2021, he will enter the season as the starter, as the Bears have held to their plan to keep Dalton the starter despite calls for rookie Justin Fields to get the nod. That aspect changes everything for the quarterback as he approached offseason and training camp work.
“This year, coming into be the starter, I could be more myself going into this one rather than last one where I had to find my place,” said Dalton.
Keeping that place will depend on his play, with Fields likely get consideration should Dalton begin to struggle early in the 2021 season. After the Bears’ open training camp competition for the quarterback spot in 2020, Matt Nagy stuck with Mitchell Trubisky for two-and-a-half games before eventually turning over the reigns to Nick Foles.
How that changes this fall is to be seen, but Dalton is keeping his mind in the moment despite the fact that he has only a one-year deal with the Bears.
“I’m in a great opportunity right here. I knew that coming in that I’d get a chance to start here and that’s my focus is on this year,” said Dalton. “The rest of my career is going to take care of itself but my focus is on what I’m doing now. This is a big year for me, and for me, I’ve gotta go just play like I know I can play.”
To stay the starter, he’ll have to, as he adjust to a third team in three years.