Welcome to the Nick Foles experience. It’s gonna be weird.
Just like Foles’ career.
In fact, it’s like we’re watching Foles’ career – which I’d argue is the strangest in NFL history – play out on every snap, and you never know which version of it you’re going to get when No. 9 drops back to pass.
On one play, we’re getting the St. Louis version of Foles, inexplicably missing a wide open Allen Robinson on third-and-2 and later laughably misfiring toward Darnell Mooney on a deep ball. On another, we’re getting Philadelphia Foles, trusting Jimmy Graham to go make a play in the end zone to completely erase a 13-point deficit just before halftime.
Then we’re getting Jacksonville Foles, nearly throwing three interceptions on a potential game-winning drive that ended with the Bears punting, down by two, with three minutes left.
The next series? Welcome back, Philly Foles, with a perfectly-lofted toss to David Montgomery to set up the game-winning field goal in the Bears’ 20-19 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night at Soldier Field.
Let’s be honest. We all had *that* thought at some point during the first 25 minutes of Thursday’s game. Mitch Trubisky couldn’t be any worse, could he?
Well, yeah. He probably could’ve been. The Bears won, after all. And this – everything we saw Thursday – is the deal you make when you start Foles.
But will we ever get off this Foles rollercoaster, or should we prepare for the terrifying lows and dizzying highs all season long?
Foles thinks the answer to that question is no, and believes things will eventually smooth out as he gets more and more experience with everyone around him.
“We just kept fighting, kept fighting and everyone kept throwing punches and I'd say the big thing from tonight was we got to learn how to go through a fist fight like this and come out on top,” Foles said. “And you don't want them every week, but if it's what it takes to win every week, that's what we'll do. But I think in the moments at the end of the game, lots to learn from for all of us. Coaches, players and everything.
“Just continue to gain that rhythm because this is my first time with a lot of these guys and a lot of these coaches, so this is the first time they've seen me in one of these games and the first time I've seen them. Tonight was a big night of learning.”
Having 10 days off between Thursday’s win over the Bucs and Week 6’s road trip to face the Carolina Panthers should allow this whole offense to take a step back and take stock of a wild three games of the Nick Foles Experience.
One thing Foles mentioned, specifically, is getting in a better flow as an offense.
“I feel like our rhythm has been sporadic a little bit,” Foles said.
That comment is notable because we saw Foles having what looked like a one-sided conversation with Matt Nagy during the fourth quarter, where it looked like Foles was imploring Nagy to allow him to play fast – perhaps meaning to cut down on the two- or three-player substitutions that’ve been a staple of this offense for the last few years.
But the Bears also haven’t had a quarterback as demanding on the sideline as Foles in the Nagy era. I can’t think of an instance of Trubisky seemingly being that clear in his communication to Nagy what he wanted. Foles has the experience – and the Super Bowl MVP trophy – for his words to carry weight, too.
“I think the biggest thing for him is that he takes it on himself,” wide receiver Allen Robinson, who had 10 catches for 90 yards, said. “He tries to clarify what he wants everybody to do and where he wants everybody at, and things like that. But again, I mean, he’s been in this offense for a while, so he’s pretty comfortable with it. Again, I think that just the things that he says and what he mentions, some of the ins and outs, you can tell.”
The optimistic view of Foles’ first win as the Bears’ starting quarterback is that he knows what he wants to do on specific plays, but his coaches and teammates might not quite yet. But that’ll come as he gets more and more time to practice and play with this group.
The more pessimistic viewpoint is that Foles is just going to be Foles all year. His career has been defined by massive variation; why wouldn’t that still be the case every week with the Bears in 2020?
We’ll find out over the next few games the answer to that question. But the good news is the Bears get to really figure out who Foles can be while enjoying a 4-1 record. If it’s better and more stable than they’ve got in his first 10 quarters at the helm? Great.
And if not? This team still can make the playoffs, where they’ll hope Foles hits one of those dizzying highs – like he did three years ago.
“We’re continuing to grow together,” Foles said. “This is something that doesn't happen overnight and I felt like today was a big one.”