Maybe the Bears would’ve still traded for Nick Foles if things in March 2020 were normal. We’ll never know.
But there is an important wrinkle to consider for why the Bears agreed to trade a fourth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Foles: He knows Matt Nagy and the general concepts of his system well. He also worked with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo last year.
And with the COVID-19 pandemic meaning NFL teams will at the last not be able to hold offseason programs — OTAs, minicamps — the relationship Foles has with his former-turned-current coaches does carry importance.
“He knows the system really well,” Nagy said of Foles before 2019’s wild card game against the Foles-led Philadelphia Eagles. “I mean, he’s known this system for a long time.”
Trust, in this case, was a key word in the Bears' decision-making process.
If the Bears are serious about having a truly open competition for their starting quarterback, adding Foles makes he and Mitch Trubisky enter that battle on equal footing.
In Foles, the Bears will add a quarterback who Nagy trusts with his offense. He won’t need to learn an entirely new playbook, even if the Bears' offense has plenty of different wrinkles from those used by the Eagles and Chiefs.
“He knows where he’s going with the football,” Nagy said before that playoff game. “And he’s a playmaker. He’s a big individual that can break tackles. He’s got a strong arm and he’s football smart. So he knows where to go with the football. But he’s just got a lot of great attributes that his players trust.”
QB play is about talent, yeah. But it is also about fit. Relationships. Chemistry. Comfort. Nick Foles is all of that for Matt Nagy. I love the move. Now they have a real chance to make some noise!— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) March 18, 2020
Foles averaged 6.3 yards per attempt in his four games with the Jaguars last year — a small sample size, thanks to a collarbone injury that landed him on IR — and that's not too encouraging. While everyone remembers his role in the Eagles’ Super Bowl run two years ago, he comes to Chicago having started only 13 games in the last four years.
The best-case is the Bears get 2018’s Foles, who competed 72 percent of his passes and averaged 7.2 yards per attempt in five regular season starts with the Eagles. Or: This lights a fire under Mitch Trubisky and he never relinquishes being QB1 on merit.
But the worst-case here is Foles doesn’t beat out Trubisky for the starting gig, and Trubisky isn’t aggressively “pushed” for the job.
We’ll see what Nagy and Ryan Pace have to say about Foles’ role when we hear from them after this trade is finalized — which might not be soon, based on the league’s COVID-19 restrictions. But it’s clear the Bears trust him. How much that means remains to be seen come the summer.