Allen Park — For the second time in three weeks the Detroit Lions will face a backup quarterback after the Bears announced Andy Dalton will start in place of injured rookie Justin Fields.
But unlike Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, Dalton brings vast experience to the table. The Bears passer actually entered this season as the team’s starter before giving way to Fields while out with an injury.
“The difference is I think Dalton, man, an experienced guy,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “He’s seen a lot, done a lot, he knows the offense. To have a veteran presence, somebody that’s done it, probably gives them a little bit of comfort I would think because he’s ready to go. He doesn’t need a lot.”
For his career, the former first-round pick has started 144 games, posting a 75-67-2 record while completing 62.2% of his passes with 221 touchdowns and 127 interceptions.
After spending his first nine seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Dalton signed with the Dallas Cowboys last year where he started nine games in place of injured starter Dak Prescott. That earned him a one-year, $10 million contract as a free agent this offseason to helm the Bears.
Chicago would later trade up in the draft to select Fields, but continued to reaffirm their commitment to Dalton as the starter to open the season. He would end up suffering a knee injury in Week 2, against his former team Cincinnati, which would sideline him two weeks, paving way for Fields to claim to the job.
Fields suffered a rib injury in the second half of last week’s 16-13 loss to the Ravens. While initial reports indicated he was recovering well to start the week, the short turnaround into Thursday’s game proved too much to overcome.
Fields started the earlier matchup between the Bears and Lions, completing 11-of-17 for 209 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception in Chicago’s 24-14 victory.
Campbell said regardless of who is under center for the Bears, he anticipates they will continue to lean on a backfield led by David Montgomery. Collectively, the Bears rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns in the previous meeting.
They’re still going to lean on the run game,” Campbell said. “They had success against us last time and that’s kind of been their MO. This is a pretty dang good back. They’ve got some heavy sets, so they’re going to lean on that.”
The Lions struggled defending the perimeter against Cleveland’s rushing attack last week, particularly when they utilized similar packages involving multiple tight ends.
“It’s about gap responsibility,” Campbell said. “You’ve got to focus on that and when we get our overlap players — our ‘backers, our safeties — they’ve got to be ready to go. They’ve got to hit it over the top.”