LAKE FOREST, Ill. – With only 26 days until the regular season opener in Detroit – and no preseason games between now and then – each rep in practice is carrying more weight than ever for the Chicago Bears.
Tuesday’s second padded practice at Halas Hall once again featured close-to-even reps between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles in the Bears’ quarterback competition, with the one exception being that Foles went first.
“We’re alternating each day as to who starts with the first group of that period,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. “Every period that we have, whether it’s a team period, a 7-on-7 period, whether it’s taking the first snap of individual, that quarterback, that will be his day. So yesterday was Mitch’s day. Today was Nick’s day.”
Getting to go first doesn’t necessarily matter, as both quarterbacks are working with the starters and backups. The reps are virtually even. More notable is how much the quarterbacks are getting swapped in and out, sometimes within series, keeping them on their toes.
“They have different rotations every day,” Foles said. “I don’t know specifically how it is. We’re going to go against first, second, third, who knows? The big thing is going in there and executing the plays and focusing on the plays and getting better. And that’s what we do. It’s been good. I’ve enjoyed it.”
But the results have been mixed.
“When you’re going through different plays and different pre-snap motions and shifts … there’s moving parts now through the defense and so that element of new players and all that put together, we want to see the tempo in and out of the huddle at a really good speed,” Nagy said. “I think right now as an offensive whole, we can be a little bit better and we always start with the quarterback directing that. So I am anxious to watch the tape today with the coaches and see what the good things and the bad things were.”
Reporters don’t get the benefit of practice tape, but here’s what was seen with the naked eye at Tuesday’s practice:
There were a lot more positives for Trubisky after an underwhelming performance Monday. An early back-shoulder throw to Cole Kmet hit the tight end in the hands near the front pylon, but fell incomplete. It was a good ball though. Trubisky also hit Allen Robinson on a good fade in what was a heavy red zone practice. The quarterback seems to be developing good chemistry with new tight end Jimmy Graham, allowing the athletic pass catcher to high-point the football in tight spaces.
There were no obvious bad mistakes by Trubisky Tuesday, but there’s still room to improve when it comes to accuracy. Ball placement is key and I counted three low throws, two of which were still catchable.
The veteran took a step back Tuesday, throwing two passes that should have been picked off. Buster Skrine dropped Foles’ first pass of the day, while linebacker Keandre Jones dropped his last pass of the day. In-between there were a couple misses, a nice slant to Kmet in traffic, and a lot of high-percentage throws that left little to complain about. That’s pretty much Foles’ game.
Day 2 winner
After Foles took Day 1, Trubisky gets the nod on Day 2. The last two days have confirmed my suspicions about this competition: it’s Trubisky’s to win or lose. When he has good days, he looks more like a playmaker than Foles, who is more of an even-keeled facilitator. But the Bears are OK with that facilitator if they can’t trust Trubisky to make the right decisions. It’s up to Trubisky to earn the trust from the coaching staff and while we aren’t privy to all of the proper decision-making in practice, Tuesday appeared to be a step in the right direction for No. 10. The accuracy still can be better though.
Matt Nagy on if Trubisky looks better than last year:
“I think so. We don't have enough right now. I wish I could tell you we had enough. But there's just not enough with where we're at. We need to see more. I can't give you a fair statement or opinion with that. I'm excited to see some more team periods. Maybe a little more red zone, some two-minute, four-minute, situational football to truly say that. I'd ask for a little bit more time on that with him. But again, the mental side of it, decision making, where he's going -- so far, so good. But we want to now continue to just see that get better and better to where we have 100-percent accuracy with that -- with both quarterbacks. They're both competing the right way. But I would say, realistically, we just need a little bit more time to be able to compare it to the last two years."