This column was mostly written before Nick Foles was carted off Soldier Field near the end of the Bears’ 19-13 loss to the Vikings Monday.
That’s because it was already time to go back to Mitchell Trubisky.
Now Bears head coach Matt Nagy might not have a choice. Foles suffered a leg/hip injury, and Trubisky – who is dealing with a right shoulder injury – might have to return after the bye week to face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 29.
“I think there’s a possibility (Trubisky will be back), but I don’t know that for sure,” Nagy said after Monday’s loss. “I think it’s going to be day by day. I don’t know if he knows that. We’ll just keep an eye on that with Nick’s status, we’ll have to see where that’s at as we go.”
Hopefully Foles did not suffer a serious injury, despite the obvious pain he was in. But if Trubisky is ready to go in Green Bay, he should start, regardless of Foles’ status.
This could be a column about the head coach. It could be a column about the play-calling, which didn’t seem to matter against the Vikings. It could be yet another column about the dreadful offensive line (especially the right side). But those topics have all been addressed ad nauseum.
This is a column about the quarterback position and holding Nick Foles accountable the same way Trubisky was when he was benched. Yes, Foles is in an awful situation right now, but he has also played poorly – and Monday night’s game against the Vikings was his worst performance yet.
There were too many moments Monday when Foles received good enough protection and did not deliver a good enough throw. His first quarter interception was the best example, a throw that went high and behind 5-11 Anthony Miller, who didn’t really have a chance despite the ball hitting his hands. Foles’ high throw to Allen Robinson in the third quarter was another example where the quarterback had time to throw a good ball, but he lofted it too much, allowing talented Vikings safety Harrison Smith time to break it up from behind. On 3rd-and-7 after the Vikings cut the Bears’ lead to 13-10, it was a critical missed opportunity. And on 4th-and-9 with 2:10 left in the game, Foles overthrew Miller on what could have been the game-winning touchdown. In that case, he was facing pressure and the ball again grazed off Miller’s hands, but it certainly wasn’t a drop and the throw could have been better.
And if you’re blaming Miller for not catching the two misses that went his way, you should step back and re-evaluate your expectations for quarterback play. All I ask is that you hold Foles accountable the same way you held Trubisky accountable when you wanted him benched.
It's time to accept that what you’re watching now is worse than what you watched when Trubisky was the quarterback.
After Cordarrelle Patterson gifted the Bears a 13-7 lead by opening the second half off with a kickoff return touchdown, the offense responded by going three-and-out three times in the third quarter. They literally went backwards in the quarter, accumulating -2 yards.
In the second half, the Bears managed a total of 32 yards, 18 of which were delivered by third-string quarterback Tyler Bray in the final 37 seconds after Foles got hurt.
"Pissed off. Disappointment. A lot of emotions, negative emotions right now," left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said.
Before Monday night, there was already evidence and advanced numbers that showed the Bears performed better with Trubisky at quarterback earlier this season. For example, Trubisky’s expected points added/play (0.044) was higher than Foles’ EPA/play (0.009) going into Monday’s game. Of course, that’s not to argue that Trubisky was playing great – he ranks No. 30 in that category, while Foles ranks No. 32.
But more to the point is the reality that Foles hasn’t been the steady hand he was supposed to be. Part of that is undoubtedly the poor offensive line he is playing behind, but that’s not the entire story. There has been way too much confusion and poor communication. At least there weren’t any substitution issues against the Vikings, but there were multiple missed protection calls, which falls on both the quarterback and the center. These are supposed to be the things cleaned up with Foles playing over Trubisky.
Will these issues be fixed if you go back to Trubisky? Not necessarily. But it’s worth finding out if Trubisky’s seven weeks of learning behind Foles on the bench have helped. And what absolutely cannot be argued is that the Bears miss Trubisky’s mobility right now. Foles’ inability to scramble exposed a suspect offensive line long before the injuries hit.
Of course, Foles’ injury could make the argument moot. But if both quarterbacks are available in Green Bay on Nov. 29, how can Nagy possibly not go back to Trubisky?
Monday night, the Bears got a fumble recovery, an interception and a kickoff returned for a touchdown and didn’t win. That’s hard to do in the NFL.
Will Mitch Trubisky fix the entire mess on offense? Absolutely not. But he might help a little. The same can’t be said about Foles right now, even if it’s not all his fault.