LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- With reporters in attendance and players wearing pads, it finally felt like training camp Monday at Halas Hall. The Bourbonnais tower was replaced by trees that line the train tracks near 1920 Football Drive, but the morning practice – complete with 11-on-11 periods and even some semi-live tackling – marked the return of actual football in Lake Forest.
More importantly, it signaled the start of the Chicago Bears’ highly anticipated quarterback competition.
And as far as first days go, Monday was, well, fine.
Neither Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles stood out with any “wow” plays, and if there was an obvious questionable decision, it came from the incumbent. Both quarterbacks were also hurt by a drop and/or poor adjustment by intended wide receivers, which is common early in camp.
Due to NFL and team guidelines, reporters are limited in what they can describe from each “closed” practice, but from this point forward, NBC Sports Chicago will be at Halas Hall with daily reports on the quarterback competition. Here’s at look at how Trubisky and Foles performed Monday:
As head coach Matt Nagy noted in the offseason, Trubisky got the first snaps in each period, but both quarterbacks worked with the first-team offense. Trubisky wasn’t exactly sharp early, but he was hurt by a drop on a nice deep ball in 7-on-7s. He followed that up with a bad decision on a forced pass over the middle that was well covered and should have been picked off by safety Deon Bush.
“We saw those (drops) too,” Nagy said. “And again, we try not to rush or get too crazy over any dropped passes right now, whether it’s on the offensive side or the defensive side with the dropped interception. We really look right now for the decision making.”
Nagy said he was pleased with the decision making for both quarterbacks but was speaking to reporters before watching the practice tape. Having actual tape to evaluate now is critical, especially with limited practice time and no preseason games. These practice reps carry even more weight than normal.
Quarterback coach John DeFilippo said he will be hyper-analyzing the tape as he grades it. So while a drop may actually count as a positive grade for Trubisky, a completion thrown behind his target (and there was one of those Monday) will likely be a downgrade.
Foles was also hurt by a drop, as well as another pass that hit a receiver in the helmet after a slow adjustment. Both quarterbacks finished stronger than they started, but Foles was especially sharp late as his last two incompletions were a drop and a smart throwaway. The veteran was also able to overcome a skipped shotgun snap to complete a pass to Jimmy Graham.
Day 1 winner
There wasn’t much separation between the quarterbacks in Monday’s practice, but I’ll give a slight edge to Foles because he finished strong and avoided the risky throw that Trubisky got away with. There’s a lot more that needs to be decided though. If the opener against the Lions was tomorrow, I’d expect Trubisky to get the start.
As it pertains to a timeline to decide the starter, Nagy had this to say:
“We are going to stretch that out as far as we possibly can. There's limited reps, limited time, so we're going to maximize those numbers that we have and literally take it as far as we need to go. Both of these guys have experience in this game and I think that's only what's fair.”
Ideally any team would like to name a starter going into the first week of game prep, but if this thing is neck-and-neck, it’s theoretically possible that the competition spills into Week 1.