For the Bears’ quarterback competition, the next two weeks won’t be all that different from the last four and a half months. It’s going to be a lot of talk and little action.
It sounds great that Mitch Trubisky is in great shape and worked out with quarterback guru Jeff Christensen. It sounds great that, for the first time in his career, Trubisky tweaked his footwork. It sounds great that he’s poured over film in an effort to become the “master of coverages” Matt Nagy challenged him to be eight
years months ago on New Year’s Eve.
It sounds great that Trubisky is being fueled by his doubters.
And it sounds great that Nick Foles is re-united with coaches he knows in Nagy, John DiFilippo and Bill Lazor. It sounds great that he won’t keep “secrets” from Trubisky and appears to have a great attitude toward this competition. It sounds great that Foles isn’t consumed by the cancellation of 2020’s preseason games.
All this sounds great. That’s not a bad thing.
It’s just not exactly important. The stuff that’ll actually matter in the Bears’ quarterback competition will begin the week of Aug. 17, when padded practices are finally allowed.
But for each quarterback, there is one big thing we heard over the last few days that’ll go a long way toward determining the winner of this competition. It comes down to familiarity, but works differently for each quarterback.
Mitch Trubisky: Familiarity with teammates
Trubisky’s thrown to Tarik Cohen since the pair arrived at rookie minicamp in May of 2017. Allen Robinson has been his top target since 2018. While they haven’t always been on the same page, Trubisky and Anthony Miller have linked up for plenty of big plays over the last few years.
And in the spring and summer, while players were kept away from Halas Hall, Trubisky led on-field workouts in the Chicago suburbs with guys like Cohen, Robinson, David Montgomery, Demetrius Harris and Cole Kmet.
Knowing how different players run different routes, and where they like the ball on those different routes, does count for something here. Foles does not possess that knowledge, and is currently just trying to learn everyone’s name as his teammates clear COVID-19 protocol at Halas Hall.
“I think for sure it’s more of a disadvantage not having what he could have had just building the relationship and probably more specifically is the timing with the wide receivers that you get in the OTAs where you can run route after route after route,” Nagy said. "You get to see and feel how guys time up their motions. So for sure that will be a disadvantage. It’s something that he could have had that he doesn’t have. But those guys know that. He understands that.”
Foles said he doesn’t necessarily feel like he’s at a disadvantage, but that might be optimistic quarterback-speak more than anything else. Because Trubisky does have an edge here.
Although if Trubisky can’t consistently deliver the ball on time to where his guys want it, that teammate-based experience might not matter much.
Nick Foles: Familiarity with scheme
Fun fact: Foles only has seven more regular season starts in his career than Trubisky despite having a five-year head start on the 2017 No. 2 overall pick. But all indications are Foles has a better command of Nagy’s offense – or at least the general outline of it – than Trubisky.
This guy won a Super Bowl MVP in Doug Pederson’s version of this offense, after all.
“The beautiful thing is there’s a lot of similarities in this offense from Philly offense so I feel right back at home,” Foles said. “Whether it’s the run game or the pass game, there are similarities – it’s been a year since I was sort of in that offense but it is nice to like have that verbiage and have this feel and understand why we’re doing it, this is how we do it, this is the history.”
Foles has less to prove when it comes to operating this branch of Andy Reid’s offense than Trubisky does, simply because he hasn’t failed in it as much. Sure, he’s had fewer opportunities – nine starts vs. Trubisky’s 29 – but ever since the Bears traded for Foles, it’s felt like there’s a certain trust baked into Nagy’s relationship with him.
Then again, if Foles knows the offense but can’t get on the same page as his receivers, his edge will soften.
My thought here still holds that Foles has the advantage in the Bears’ quarterback competition, though, because of what he said in the quote above. He feels at home in this offense; that gives the Bears a better chance of feeling at home with him at quarterback. Even if he’s still trying to learn everyone’s name.