After an underwhelming competition in training camp, the Chicago Bears have finally chosen their starting quarterback.
Fourth-year signal caller Mitchell Trubisky will get the nod over veteran Nick Foles in what was a hotly-contested battle that spanned three weeks in training camp. While the decision was surprising, at the same time it wasn’t. Especially after neither Trubisky or Foles managed to pull away in this competition.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy will hold a press conference Sunday, where he’s expected to make the announcement official.
But until then, here are my five takeaways from Trubisky being named Chicago’s starting quarterback.
1. A presumptive tiebreaker went to the incumbent starter
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While there were challenges with this quarterback battle, the hope was that Trubisky or Foles would pull away in this competition. That obviously didn’t happen, as reports out of camp indicated neither quarterback looked particularly impressive. Even Nagy said Trubisky and Foles “have done a good job at making it difficult.”
Which led to questions about a potential tiebreaker. Who would get the nod? Well, the answer appears to be the incumbent starter with two years of experience in this offense and with Chicago’s personnel. It always felt like Foles was going to have to outright win the job to supplant Trubisky. And with that not happening, Trubisky gets one last chance to prove himself.
2. Bears were pleased with Trubisky’s improvement
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Lost in the fact that neither quarterback separated himself in this competition was the fact that Trubisky made improvements that the coaching staff recognized and lauded him for. While there’s never been a question about Trubisky’s physical tools, it’s been the mental aspect of the game that has held him back. Decision-making, reading a defense and accuracy among them. Nagy praised Trubisky for his improvement during camp, which could’ve been a hint that the Bears were going to lean that way in this competition.
“The biggest thing that we probably felt as a staff is his ability here in training camp,” Nagy said Wednesday. “There’s not many plays where he’s flushing out of the pocket when he’s not forced to. He’s been staying in the pocket. I love that about him doing that because he’s listening to what we’re talking about with his middle-of-the-field throws: the vision downfield, being able to have that mentality of going downfield and then checking it down.”
There were reports out of camp that Trubisky looked different than last season. Even Trubisky’s teammates noticed a difference, which goes back to the whole competition breeds success aspect of things.
“He actually looks like a whole new player this year,” Patterson said last month. “I see it in his eyes and everything. He’s got that fire in him. That’s what we need out of our quarterbacks, that competition, it brings the best out of everybody. I’m excited to see what him and Nick can do for that job.”
3. Bears are giving Trubisky one last chance to prove he can be the guy
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From the look of things earlier this offseason, it looked like the Bears had completely given up on Trubisky. They declined his fifth-year option, traded for an experienced veteran that had experience with Chicago’s new offensive coaching staff and shelled out $21 million guaranteed. But Nagy insisted that this quarterback competition would be an open and fair one that would give each an opportunity to win the job.
But you figure Chicago owes it one last chance to see what Trubisky can do with this new coaching staff. The Bears still have a big investment in Trubisky. The ultimate hope remains that the former No. 2 overall pick turn things around — learn how to read a defense, clean up the processing issues and have that moment where it all clicks. And if that doesn’t work, they can always turn to Foles to carry out the remainder of the season before parting ways with Trubisky.
4. Trubisky benefitted from shortened offseason
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Nagy preached an open and fair competition from the moment the Bears traded for Foles. In an ideal situation, Nagy and his coaching staff would’ve had ample time and reps to evaluate Trubisky and Foles and choose a starter. They would’ve gotten to see these quarterbacks in live-game action during the preseason, perhaps the biggest blow in this competition.
With just training camp reps to evaluate, this battle was always going to be difficult. Especially without having the benefit of preseason reps to see how these quarterbacks performed in situations where the opposing defense could hit them.
Trubisky always had a slight edge heading into this competition based on his experience with the personnel and two full years in Nagy’s offense. For Foles, while he did effectively run an offense similar to Nagy’s in Philadelphia, he had little time to become acquainted with Chicago’s personnel. Would things have been different had this been an offseason unlike any other? Most likely. But, at this point, the Bears went with the guy they thought gives them the best chance to win.
5. This QB competition is far from over
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From the start of this competition, there was always this feeling that regardless of who won this battle, that there was a chance that we could see both quarterbacks at some point this season. Whether that was due to injury or COVID-19 concerns or struggles by the determined starter.
The Bears are in a much better position than they were at this time last year. When Trubisky struggled, they couldn’t turn to backup Chase Daniel to relieve him. Even when he struggled, Trubisky still gave the Bears a better chance to win than Daniels. Now with Foles on the bench — where he’s been known for coming off the bench and finding success — the Bears have someone to turn should Trubisky revert to the struggles that doomed him last season.