Mitch Trubisky will take the first snap of the Bears’ season Sept. 13 in Detroit, according to multiple reports. He won the competition, earning the right to start against the Lions.
Trubisky hasn’t earned much else.
That’s the nature of a quarterback competition played out 1) only in practice and 2) over barely two and a half weeks. This was supposed to be the preseason in which Matt Nagy finally played his starters, affording him and his coaches plenty of actual games to evaluate the quarterbacks.
When those preseason games were canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the leash shortened for whoever the Bears’ starting quarterback would be.
“This is a seasonal process,” Nagy said at the start of training camp. “… You obviously want that starter in a perfect world to be able to go win a Super Bowl. But there are so many different things that can happen. Especially this season.”
And then when neither quarterback looked particularly impressive during training camp, leading to Nagy saying there was no “clear-cut” winner, the leash shortened even more.
Trubisky, even in winning the job, still will have to prove himself at every turn in 2020. He has arguably the most successful backup quarterback in NFL history waiting on the sidelines, ready to step in at any moment. The pressure will be on Trubisky all season long.
Realistically, I’d give Trubisky three games. Why? Nagy talked in February at the NFL Combine (remember conventions?!) about needing a heightened sense of urgency to rapidly find his team’s offensive identity in 2020. If the Bears can’t find their identity in those first three games – against suboptimal defenses in the Lions, Giants and Falcons – a switch to Foles may be necessary.
Why three games instead of four? The Bears play on Thursday night against the Buccaneers in Week 5, and if they’re going to make a quarterback change for that game, they have to make one for Week 4 against the Colts. It’s not realistic to change quarterbacks between Sunday and Thursday.
But even if Trubisky were to make it to Week 5, he’s not guaranteed to start Week 6. The Bears can take stock of their offense and do some self-scouting during a “mini-bye” after playing the Bucs and decide if Trubisky is still the right guy.
So: Trubisky, as long as he’s healthy and not an unplayable disaster, probably has three games to keep his job. I wouldn’t be totally shocked, too, if his leash is even shorter
The Bears’ quarterback competition is, nominally, over. But in reality, it hasn’t ended – and probably won’t end this year, either.