Analysis

QB Competition: Trubisky’s late mistake overshadows excellent practice

Analysis
NBC Sports Chicago

To the naked eye, Mitch Trubisky had one of his best training camp practices in a Bears uniform Thursday.

But his head coach wasn’t waiting to hand him a trophy afterward.

“I thought there were some good decisions that he made with throws. There were a few where he was late on a couple routes, as well,” Matt Nagy said. “Nick (Foles), the same thing.”

RELATED: Day 3 Takeaways: Akiem Hicks – And Rest Of D-Line – Win The Day

There’s no doubt there’s been a shift in public accountability with Trubisky. The fourth-year pro, who celebrated his 26th birthday Thursday, may have had a good practice, but he also committed a critical error on his last dropback of the day. On first-and-goal at the 1-yard-line, Trubisky rolled to his right and couldn’t find an open receiver. Instead of throwing the ball away, he simply ran out of bounds for a loss, something he’s done multiple times during his career.

“Those are critical errors that we can’t have. He’s not going to do that again. He’s going to fix it and move on,” Nagy said. “That’s a situational play that we need to be 2nd-and-goal at the 1 and not 2-and-goal at the 3. He’ll fix that problem and move on and he’ll do better tomorrow.”

When training camp started, Nagy vowed to be honest about how both Trubisky and Foles perform and he wasn’t afraid to hold Trubisky accountable Thursday.

 

“What did I tell you a few weeks ago? We’re going to tell them when they played crappy and we’re going to tell them when they play well,” Nagy said. “Whether that’s the accuracy of a throw or whether that’s a decision.”

RELATED: Great Defense No Excuse If Trubisky, Foles Struggle 

With that, it’s my turn to do the same with observations on the quarterback beat from Thursday:

Mitch Trubisky

Here’s the thing. Despite the mistake at the end of practice, Trubisky looked great. Nagy emphasized the need for both quarterbacks to improve their accuracy in 7-on-7 drills and Trubisky only had one incompletion the entire session. In fairness, the difficultly level of some of the throws can be debated and Nagy admitted Trubisky was late on some his passes. Without the benefit of coaches’ tape, it’s usually never as good as it looks live or as bad as it looks. Still, Trubisky has improved in each practice this week. In particular, a tight-window throw to Riley Ridley up the middle and a great throw to tight end Eric Saubert for a touchdown stood out Thursday. 

Nick Foles

By contrast, Foles wasn’t nearly as accurate during the early 7-on-7 session. He did bounce back with a nice deep ball to Javon Wims for a touchdown though. A lot of Thursday’s practice focused on the running game with high-percentage throws mixed in. Not surprisingly, Foles excelled with those. If not for a drop late, he would have been perfect in the final period.

The winner

The nod goes to Trubisky for the second straight practice. He looked confident and got in a groove early, while Foles struggled to connect during the same period. Both quarterbacks finished strong and Trubisky’s mental blunder at the end of practice – while frustrating – wasn’t enough to spoil a good birthday. The important question is, will the coaching staff be as forgiving?

Final word

Nagy on what’s coming up in the quarterback competition: “A lot of it is going to be more of game-like situations. Maybe some live, situational stuff. Similar-type scrimmages, that sort of thing, as we start putting together the scripts. So some of that stuff will be coming up here, which I think you guys will see.”

To this point, most of what we’ve seen has resembled normal training camp practices. With no preseason games, the coaching staff will need to find a way to simulate live pressure as much as possible. The Bears were supposed to be in Denver this week practicing against the Broncos before playing them Saturday in their second preseason game. That would have provided a great, week-long test for Trubisky and Foles. Instead, the Bears simulate what they can at Halas Hall. No one is going to let the quarterbacks get hit, but some scrimmaging shouldn’t be too far away. 

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