The Chicago Bears quarterback competition will be the biggest story of training camp, if and when it gets underway later this summer. The battle between incumbent starter Mitch Trubisky and veteran Nick Foles will be hotly contested, but the truncated offseason workout program could favor Foles, whose familiarity with Matt Nagy and history of success on the field will create a level of confidence in his ability to lead this team to early-season wins.
That confidence is extending beyond the Nagy's playsheet-covered home office, too. NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal is predicting Foles will begin the year as the team's starter.
Here's who Rosenthal thinks will be the Bears' Week 1 starting lineup (on offense):
QB: Nick Foles
RB: David Montgomery
WR: Allen Robinson
WR: Anthony Miller
TE: Jimmy Graham
TE: Cole Kmet
LT: Charles Leno Jr.
LG: James Daniels
C: Cody Whitehair
RG: Germain Ifedi
RT: Bobby Massie
"Instead of listing three receivers, both Jimmy Graham and do-everything rookie Cole Kmet get the nod as tight end starters," Rosenthal wrote. "Nagy hasn't used a ton of two-tight-end sets in Chicago, but Kmet's skill set and Graham's salary should get them on the field together."
Newly signed veteran receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. should have a leg up on Javon Wims and Riley Ridley for the No. 3 receiver role, but I wouldn't say that it's guaranteed. In fact, Ginn could play more of a specialist role and have a specific set of plays designed to take advantage of his third-level speed. It wouldn't make much sense to stun the development of either Wims or Ridley, one of whom is likely to be around for a while in Chicago, for a 36-year-old player who's in town on a one-year rental.
The most important takeaway, however, circles back to the quarterback. It's beginning to feel like Trubisky is the underdog as the calendar inches toward June. Let's face it; he deserves to be. Expectations for Trubisky were justifiably high after he was the second overall pick of the 2017 draft. He hasn't lived up to them, and his career in Chicago is on life support. If he loses this competition to Foles, his future in the NFL is likely at backup, wherever he plays next.
The Bears' offense was bad last year. I know that. You know that. The Bears (hopefully?) know that.
But *extremely 30 For 30 voice* what if I told you just how bad they really were? Would you be interested in that? You wouldn't be? Sorry, got a quota to hit.
In a fascinating new study written by Rotoworld's Hayden Weeks, the lack of modern wrinkles in Chicago's offense are made painstakingly clear. Weeks took an analytically-slanted look at every NFL offense, and friends, it's a rough read:
4th Down Aggressiveness: 23rd
Pass Rate on Early Downs: 9th
Pass Rate While Trailing: 13th
Play-Action Rate: 27th
Downfield Pass Rate: 16th
Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 5th
Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 30th
Outside Run Rate: 20th
Shotgun Run Rate: 5th
Offensive Pace: 22nd
Overall, Weeks ranks the Bears as the 22nd best offense in football based on the above metrics. If there's any hope whatsoever, it comes from his short write up of Nagy's offense – but still, temper your expectations:
If I incorporated the front office, the Bears would be much lower, but I think Nagy holds his own in terms of in-game analytics usage. He’s just been dealt a horrible hand at quarterback and with the offensive line. Nagy opted for a decent pass rate on early downs (9th) and while trailing (13th), plus uses shotgun a lot and targets the middle of the field (5th). There are a few things holding him back from jumping into Tier 3, however. The Bears weren’t aggressive enough on fourth downs (23rd) and didn't use play action (27th) or pre-snap motion (30th) nearly enough. Maybe the quarterback change sparks change.
Bears: Use play action! Just try it! I promise you'll like it.
Patrick Mahomes forever altered the sports contract landscape with his landmark 10-year, $450 million extension that became official this week. It made all the sense in the world to lock up the 2018 MVP whose team could very easily be coming off back-to-back Super Bowl titles if not for a nail-biting loss to the eventual-champion Patriots in the 2019 AFC Championship game. But Brad Spielberger, who does extensive salary cap research and writing for OverTheCap.com, believes Mahomes could have massively cashed in again if he took a different approach to these negotiations
Coming in, we knew this was going to be a groundbreaking deal in some respects... I really didn’t think he was going to give up that many years of control – it’s basically a lifetime contract. Again, I know it’s maybe up to half a billion dollars, so it sounds crazy to maybe question his thinking there, but in 5, 6, 7 years down the road, he probably could have gotten another deal that would have made this one look small in comparison.
Every team in the league would love this deal… every front office in the NFL would say, the fact that they have this much time on this deal is the best part about it. Again, it’s a monstrous deal and there are outs at certain points so it’s not so strict as to say he can’t get out of it or he can’t work with it. If I’m his agent, I would push for 5 years, $200M fully guaranteed; let’s go mega-Kirk Cousins on steroids, let’s change the game, and then let’s see if we can sign a deal for $50M a year when that one runs out.
The scenario painted there is an interesting one, and might have allowed Mahomes to reset the quarterback market twice in a decade… but we’ll never know. For more from Spielberger, including how the Mahomes deal impacts the Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson negotiations and what the Bears’ offseason moves tell him about the mindset of Ryan Pace’s front office, listen to the most recent edition of the Under Center podcast here or below.