LAKE FOREST, Ill. – In the last two days, new Bears quarterback Nick Foles has looked more like the adequate NFL starter he’s proven to be to be in this league.
Mitch Trubisky, meanwhile, has yet to show the type of significant improvement necessary to retain the “QB1” label he’s held since Week 5 of the 2017 season. He hasn’t looked bad, but he also hasn’t seized the competition either.
The Bears officially have six practices remaining before they enter their Week 1 game week prep for the Detroit Lions. The team announced Wednesday they will practice at Soldier Field Saturday - - originally the day they were supposed to play the San Francisco 49ers in their third preseason game. After that, all remaining practices will be closed to the media.
In other words, the Bears’ quarterback competition is starting to dwindle. And Wednesday’s practice was the third to last that NBC Sports Chicago will be able to witness. It was both the hottest and longest practice of camp so far, and one of the quarterbacks really rose to the occasion. Here’s what was seen:
We’ll start with Foles today because he worked with the starters in 11-on-11 drills, the first time in training camp that the quarterbacks weren’t rotated with the first team. Head coach Matt Nagy said that was due to the two-minute and special situations they were running in practice and said Trubisky will roll with the first-team Thursday.
Still, it was notable that Foles probably had his best series of camp in the extended two-minute drill, which simulated the Bears trailing by 16 points late in a game. He went 6-for-7 in that period, including a beautiful touchdown pass to Riley Ridley down the right sideline that beat rookie cornerback Kindle Vildor.
“I thought Nick had good protection,” Nagy said, describing the play. “Sometimes you can put a little bit too much air on that throw and the safety can get over the top and make a hit, but Nick had just the (right) amount of loft on the throw. It was like a No. 2 shot. He just fired it in there and Rids did a good job of getting open.”
I only marked down two subpar throws from Foles all day, and one of them was on a completion. The other was a shot play to Jimmy Graham in which Foles didn’t get enough air under the throw and the tight end couldn’t get to the ball.
Tuesday was the veteran’s best practice of camp and he especially shined in hurry-up situations.
“Nick had a really good day in that mode for us. I thought he just really ran the offense really smooth. I thought the guys around him played really well,” Nagy said.
Working with the second-team, Trubisky hit wide receiver Rodney Adams on a nice throw over the middle in the same early two-minute drill, but the series was riddled with sacks (I counted four). In a route combination drill, Trubisky showed good chemistry with Javon Wims, who had a great day of practice on the receiving end of things. A high pass to Cole Kmet was the most notable throw in 7-on-7s and the big mistake of the day was an underthrown ball to Ridley in 11-on-11s that was intercepted by Vildor. Trubisky ended practice strong with two relatively deep completions to Anthony Miller.
Foles simply had a great day, while Trubisky was fine. I was waiting to see Foles make a couple big throws downfield and he delivered on passes down the sideline to Wims and Ridley. Trubisky improved after struggling Tuesday, but it was notable that Foles put together his best practice of camp after the competition appeared to tilt his way the day prior.
For whatever reason, both quarterbacks were sacked a ton on Wednesday. By my count, Trubisky was sacked six times in 11-on-11 situations, while Foles was sacked four times. After practice, Nagy said he needed to watch the tape to have a better idea of what was going on.
“I felt that way, too. There were times -- there were a lot of different reasons for it, whether it’s the wrong call at the line or just a guy gets beat 1-on-1,” he said. “I’ll be excited to see it myself.”
Right guard Germain Ifedi added this:
"Some days, you know, communication might not be where we want as an offensive line. That starts with the first group and second group. We all learn it together, so just going back to the drawing board about our assignments. It gets hot, it was a longer day than we've had, so that challenges younger guys. That challenges all of us to be -- we all had our mental stuff today."