Mitch Trubisky, not Nick Foles, will win Bears' QB battle for one simple reason

Cam Ellis
NBC Sports Chicago

In my mind, there are really only two ways this column ages: as the dumbest thing I've ever written, or the second-dumbest thing I've ever written. But reader I need to tell you this, because not to be dramatic, but it has been eating me from the inside for literal weeks at this point: I think Mitch Trubisky is going to win the quarterback competition this summer.  

Trubisky's going to win the job in camp because the Bears want Trubisky to win the job in camp. But that's exactly the point – Ryan Pace took a look at his quarterback room and decided it needed a competition, not a replacement. That says something, doesn't it? They reportedly threw three-years and $60 million at Teddy Bridgewater, who then apparently turned them down out of ‘fear of Trubisky's presence and an open competition.' It would have taken exactly one (1) phone call for the Bears to clear that up if they wanted to. 

It's not like the quarterback market got out of control this offseason, either. Cam Newton's still available. Jameis Wintson – who, you'll remember, threw 33 touchdowns last season – signed a one-year deal on a base salary of $900k. The choices weren't inspiring, but that's sort of life on the free agent QB market. There were a wide variety of options that would be seen as clear upgrades available to Ryan Pace, who instead gave Robert Quinn 70 million dollars. And that's not a bad thing, either! But it's telling that the Bears, with their mildly-concerning-but-not-quite-scary cap situation, were willing to give out the market's biggest contract at another position. 

Hey, did you know that Nick Foles has never played a full NFL season? Ever! Nick Foles hasn't even reached double digit games in five years – he's appeared in 19 of them since 2015, to get even more specific. We should really stop on that fact for a moment. Nick Foles has never played a full NFL season. If this graf reads poorly it's because I don't properly know how to express my confusion about how little this is being discussed. And now, after maybe half an offseason, on a new team, at 31, Nick Foles is going to put together *checks notes* the first full season of his career? If you want to believe that, go right ahead – but how much more realistic is that than thinking Trubisky improves? 

And yeah, Foles probably understands Matt Nagy's utopic daydreams of tight end mismatches and gadget-player pre-snap motion better than Trubisky. Foles certainly has the whole Playoff Hero schtick on his side (a cruel irony, of course, being that Trubisky outplayed Foles in their one postseason matchup). But does Foles know how Anthony Miller likes to come out of breaks? Does he know where Allen Robinson likes the ball placed on certain routes? If that sounds pedantic it's only because it probably is, but there is more to running an offense than play recognition. It's why I think Trubisky has a point when he talks about the advantages a truncated offseason allows him. 

Trubisky wouldn't be the first newly-motivated, ‘pissed off' incumbent to still end up holding the clipboard, and if he runs back his performance from 2019's camp, that'll end up being the case. But by all accounts, he's truly a competitive guy, and starting QB gigs don't come around very often; if it's naive to think that fighting for continued employment (not to mention relevancy) in the only job Trubisky's spent 10+ years working toward may bring out better play from him, so be it. 

As plenty have already said, the Bears' best-case scenario is absolutely still getting a new and improved Trubisky who's finally clicked. Replacing him entirely this offseason wouldn't have been difficult. Instead, Pace found a reliable insurance policy. In a slightly-backwards way, all the terrible optics from the last six months have still pointed towards Trubisky starting Week 1. And when Chicago's hyper-specific brand of QB panic sets in, which it will, eight weeks later: enter Nick Foles. Trubisky gets his last chance, Foles gets to thrive in the role Foles thrives in. That's the play here, I think. 

Mitch Trubisky, not Nick Foles, will win Bears' QB battle for one simple reason originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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