Chicago Bears: Predicting the first loss on 2021 schedule and why it will happen

Justin Fields or not, it will be hard to imagine the Chicago Bears starting off the 2021 season with a win.

One has to give credit to Ryan Pace entering the summer — he improved the Chicago Bears overall.

Entering the offseason, Chicago kicked the tires on Mitchell Trubisky and elected to turn to the draft to find its next long-term option. Although forced to give up an extra first-round pick, the upside of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields will be worth it even if he struggles during his rookie season.

The former Buckeye adds an extra element to the offense with his ability to scramble and keep drives alive outside the pocket. Having a true No.1 receiver in Allen Robinson will help and a still overall solid defense gives the Bears a foreground to build on for the future.

Ultimately, if Fields can produce early, there’s an argument to  be made Chicago could contend for the division title if the Green Bay Packers-Aaron Rodgers situation falls into the regular season.

Every team though is expected to drop a game. For Chicago, it comes Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams.

Andy Dalton will start, costing the Bears a win to begin the year

Keep in mind that even though Pace has eased the flames between fanbase and front office, that doesn’t mean Fields will be ready right away. Anyone can look good when throwing against air and only time will tell if he’s ready to start by Week 1 of the NFL season.

Chicago added Andy Dalton to be a teacher for Fields in similar fashion to that of Patrick Mahomes and Alex Smith in Kansas City. Mahomes needed a full season to learn how to play in more than just an air-raid system for Andy Reid. Fields will likely need just several weeks to adjust to NFL speed.

The Rams defense took a hit in free agency with the departures of John Johnson III and Troy Hill. However, sixth-round pick Jordan Fuller played well enough when asked to take snaps at the free safety position. Taylor Rapp also has done best when asked to play more zone defense against tight ends as the strong safety role.

Los Angeles also has Jalen Ramsey ready to shut down Robinson, taking away a key element of the passing game. Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd should provide pressure off the edge against an offensive line with a rookie left tackle and a glaring hole on the right side.

Offensively, the Rams upgraded under center with Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions. Stafford still could be holding a grudge from the Week 1 matchup of 2022 where he threw for 297 yards and a touchdown on his way to a 27-23 loss to the Bears.

Imagine if Trubisky was given a full season to learn under Mike Glennon? Would he have been a Pro Bowler every season? More than than likely, no. That however cannot force Pace and Matt Nagy to start Fields Week 1 if he isn’t ready.

Most GMs aren’t lucky to trade up twice for a franchise QB. Dalton can do enough to start Week 1 and maybe make things interesting.

Yes, Fields will start before the end of the season. No, it should not be Week 1 against Aaron Donald and Sean McVay. Chicago will lose the season opener, but that doesn’t mean the season will be done altogether.

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