Matt Nagy hasn’t entertained questions this week about how long (or short) a leash he has on Mitch Trubisky.
And why would he? He just named his starting quarterback, and a head coach talking about replacing his starting quarterback before a game is even played doesn’t make any sense.
“The positive, glass half full is go in here as this is Mitch’s game,” Nagy said.
Still, it’s easy to wonder at what point Nagy will tell Nick Foles to start warming up if Trubisky doesn’t improve from a 2019 season in which he was last in the NFL in yards per attempt. Foles is, after all, arguably the most successful backup quarterback in NFL history, and the Bears traded a fourth-round pick and guaranteed him $24 million to bring him to Chicago.
And you just know the moment Trubisky makes a big mistake – an interception, a bad decision, etc. – the FOX cameras are going to cut to Foles on the sideline during Sunday’s game.
But Hall of Fame coach and NBC Sports analyst Tony Dungy has a message for Nagy: Fight the urge to bench Trubisky if things go wrong.
“(Trubisky) has to know that I’m your guy,” Dungy told me on Friday’s edition of the Under Center Podcast. “And a three interception game or the offense getting in a little funk, (thinking) all of a sudden I’m going to be out – that’s a hard way to play quarterback.”
Plus, Dungy said, the team needs to come together with one clear starting quarterback – and not wonder when the other guy is going to come in.
“He’s our quarterback, we gotta rally behind him,” Dungy said. “And if he doesn’t play well sometimes, you know what, other guys – you have to play better. It may not be all him. That’s the way I’d be selling it.
“Now if you ever make the decision to go to Nick Foles, then you’re making a big statement. You’re saying hey, we gave Mitch every opportunity and it just didn’t quite work out.”
Dungy, by the way, has experience with this. In 2001, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought in Brad Johnson to compete with Shaun King, and Dungy chose Johnson as his guy – even though King quarterbacked the Bucs to consecutive playoff appearances the two years prior.
Johnson wasn’t very good in 2001 (13 TDs, 11 INTs) but Dungy stuck with him as his starting quarterback for all 16 games. That Bucs team made the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
The point is: Fight the urge to turn to the backup unless it's truly your last resort.
“To me if you’re saying we’re going to have a competition, we’re going to see who’s better, maybe five weeks with Mitch and then maybe two weeks with Nick, I don’t think that works,” Dungy said. “I think the team needs to know who our quarterback is.”