Nick Foles will be the Bears’ Week 1 starting quarterback because of one simple reason.
He has less to do to win the job than Mitch Trubisky does.
Foles does not have to overcome three years of inconsistent tape. Foles does not need to show he’s a different quarterback than he’s been in the past. All Foles needs to prove is competence and he’ll win the job.
Trubisky has to prove not only competence, but that whatever competence he shows in training camp practices isn’t a mirage ready to disappear when the snaps actually matter.
This is going to be a weird, unprecedented (and, probably, irresponsible!) training camp amid a dangerous, deadly pandemic still raging in the United States. The NFL and NFLPA still haven’t agreed on the number of preseason games that’ll be played – the NFL wants two, the NFLPA wants zero (there should be zero, by the way). Players are scheduled to report to Halas Hall July 28; with so much still unresolved between the NFL and NFLPA, it wouldn’t be surprising to see that date get pushed back – perhaps truncating training camp.
Fewer (or no) games benefits Foles, who, again, has less to prove. Fewer practices probably benefit Foles, too, even though he needs time to develop relationships with his offensive line and the guys he’ll be throwing to. Trubisky needs as many practices and games as possible to prove he's not the quarterback he was from 2017-2019.
Foles isn’t walking into training camp blind, either. He has existing relationships with Nagy, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and quarterbacks coach John DiFilippo. He’s played in versions of Nagy’s scheme with the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, where he won a Super Bowl MVP, by the way. That gives him an important foundation as he embarks on this competition.
And this is all based on an assumption that Trubisky won’t save his career during training camp. Three years of inconsistent tape – and a league-worst 5.9 yards per attempt average in 2019 – are a lot to overcome over a handful of practices.
The Bears’ best-case, though, is Foles pushes Trubisky but doesn’t beat him out for the starting job. Trubisky at his best gives the Bears a better chance of making a deep playoff run than Foles at his best.
And it’s not like Foles, even if he wins the job, is guaranteed to shepherd the Bears back into the postseason. He hasn’t started more than eight games since 2015, and only has 13 regular season starts over the last four seasons. There is a certain level of unknown to Foles when it comes to how he’d handle a full season of starting.
But then again, there’s a certain level of “known” to how Trubisky would. It’d be uneven, if the last three years are any indication. For every big game against Detroit or Dallas or Tampa Bay, there’ve been more duds against Green Bay or New Orleans or Philadelphia.
That’s what Trubisky has to overcome, in addition to the first true challenge to his job in Foles. Foles has to overcome not knowing his teammates and some of the wrinkles Nagy’s put into his branch of the Andy Reid offense.
Foles, then, has less to do to become the Bears’ opening day starting quarterback. That makes him the safest bet.
And that’s why I’m picking him to win.