The Bears’ quarterback competition is over.
Wednesday’s practice at Halas Hall was, effectively, the final preseason practice for the Bears. They’ll have a light walkthrough Thursday before giving players Friday and Saturday off, while coaches and front office staff huddle to talk through the 53-man roster.
And, crucially, decide on a starting quarterback for Sept. 13's trip to Detroit.
“It is not easy,” coach Matt Nagy said. “It’s not clear-cut.”
So neither Mitch Trubisky nor Nick Foles separated himself in the Bears’ quarterback competition, which began in earnest Aug. 17 and ended just 16 days later. And that begs a question:
Did the Bears get what they wanted out of their quarterback competition?
Nagy thinks the answer is yes.
“I just think that what we thought as a coaching staff was going to happen in that quarterback (room) has happened,” Nagy said. “And now what they’ve done, they’ve put it in our hands to make a decision and I’m just proud of both of them.”
But the Bears’ best-case outcome of pitting Foles against Trubisky was always for it to be the spark for the 2017 No. 2 overall pick to reach his potential. It’s tough to know if that’ll happen until Trubisky makes his first regular season start, be it in Week 1 or later.
What we saw during the nine training camp practices open to the media did not seem encouraging for Trubisky; then again, it’s not like Foles was noticeably better. Hence the lack of a "clear-cut" winner.
There’s a lot more to the Bears’ evaluations of these two quarterbacks than the eye test, though. Nagy said Wednesday, specifically, he’s been pleased with Trubisky avoiding plays where he bails out of the pocket too quickly, allowing him to keep a “touchdown-to-checkdown” mentality and make the decisions coaches want within plays.
“I love that about him doing that because he's listening to what we're talking about with his middle-of-the-field throws,” Nagy said.
Nagy, too, mentioned being happy with how Foles “accepts” the offense, which is similar but not the same from the one he learned with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016.
“He's had his own idea on things,” Nagy said. “And I think you can feel that growth of that balance of listening to what we have, us listening to what he has, and doing it our way.”
Maybe those specific areas of growth for both quarterbacks happen if there isn’t a competition. But it’s hard to imagine the specter of opening the season on the bench not having an impact, especially when it comes to “listening” to coaches – a word Nagy used in both examples.
So maybe the Bears did get what they hoped from this competition, even if it wasn’t obviously tangible during the practices open to the media and even if there isn't an obvious winner. We’ll see.
But maybe the fact that the Bears had to have a competition is enough to write off any of this “growth,” too.
“Sometimes people say, ‘Well if you have two quarterbacks that means you don’t have any,’” Nagy said, mentioning a well-worn criticism of the Bears’ roster. “… We know what we have in these guys. We feel really good about both of them.
“Being as brutally honest as I could be, it’s difficult.”