LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears may have dropped the pads Friday, but the quarterback battle remained competitive with both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles earning praise from their head coach after practice.
“I thought both quarterbacks, their decision-making, they were making quicker decisions today,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. “(We’ll) go back and watch the tape and see the timing with the wide receivers and everything. Today, it felt like a pretty good day today.”
Nagy has been hesitant to provide too much praise for his quarterbacks in his post-practice media sessions because almost all of the evaluation is done off the tape, which is consumed by the coaching staff in the afternoon.
“That's how you evaluate. You evaluate off the tape,” Nagy said. “And there's feel involved. We try not over-coach them in practice. It gets too choppy. That's why we have so much film. We can get right back in here and get to the details of what did we see?”
The rest of us are left without the tape to evaluate, but even to the naked eye, it was obvious why Nagy was feeling good about his quarterbacks after Friday’s non-padded practice.
One day after being criticized for running out of bounds for a sack instead of throwing the ball away, Trubisky responded with a very clean practice. In fact, adjusting for two short passes that were batted down at the line of scrimmage (one that was completely blown up by Khalil Mack), Trubisky only had one incompletion on a downfield pass Friday. On a zone-read, he made a quick decision and zipped a strike to Allen Robinson up the middle. Another strike to Jimmy Graham followed a few reps later. And we saw Trubisky’s familiar scrambling ability on a throw to rookie tight end Cole Kmet on the run. The degree of difficulty was limited – we didn’t really see any bombs downfield – but Trubisky had another solid day of practice. Taking out the blunder at the end of Thursday’s practice, his accuracy has been very good the last two days and he has yet to throw a interception in camp (although he had one dropped on Monday).
For the second straight day, Foles did not match Trubisky’s accuracy in 7-on-7s, but he also appeared to be attempting tougher throws. Two downfield shots to rookie Darnell Mooney fell incomplete, while Foles was able to hook up with Robinson on a good ball to the right side. Later, he threw a really nice ball to Javon Wims downfield with pressure in his face. On the other hand, a deep ball to Ted Ginn Jr. was nearly picked off by safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. Like Trubisky, Foles has not thrown an interception in four practices, but he’s had more close calls.
The numbers overwhelmingly favored Trubisky Friday, but there’s no question Foles was taking more chances downfield. Still, Trubisky did the little things well, hitting receivers in stride on shorter throws, while also throwing strikes when he did open it up. Foles by no means had a bad day, but he did throw the only near-interception. For the third straight day, Trubisky gets the slight edge, but the overall meter is not moving. The Bears are still waiting for one of the quarterbacks to step up and take over the competition.
The Final Word
One of the reasons why both quarterbacks are working with almost every wide receiver on the roster is because of the lack of receiving bodies. Remember, the roster is usually at 90 this time of year but is down to 80 because of COVID-19 protocols.
“The wide receiver position, those guys are running all day long,” Nagy said. “So with less guys on the roster, you have to be real critical of yourselves as coaches as for how you script practice. In a normal training camp from years past, in a 20-minute period, you can sometimes get 40 plays. 35-40 plays. You can’t do that now. It’s not because of the tempo, it’s because these guys don’t have the legs. So you now can only get so many reps with those starters. OK, if we can’t get all the reps with the starters, then let’s at least get some reps with the backups. And that’s kinda what we’ve done.”