Only Mitch Trubisky, not Nick Foles, can save Bears from bleak, mediocre future

JJ Stankevitz
NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears just might be in the worst possible place: The Middle. 

The Middle is where teams are in some ways good, but not good enough to win a Super Bowl. The Middle is where teams are in other ways bad, but not bad enough to get a top draft pick.

It's a bleak place to be. It's one the Ringer's Robert Mays eloquently wrote about the Bears being in this week. Mays, by the way, isn't some national type who "hates" the Bears. He's a Bears fan who happens to be one of the smartest football writers around. 

But what Mays wrote got me thinking: If the Bears are indeed in The Middle, how do they get out? 

The answer is Mitch Trubisky. 

Only Mitch Trubisky can lead the Bears out of The Middle. 

Gulp. 

Trubisky, after all, is the reason why the Bears are in The Middle. The Bears wouldn't be here if Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes were their quarterback. Instead, their guy finished last in the NFL in yards per attempt in 2019. 

MORE: Why Mitch Trubisky will win the Bears' QB competition

Rather than every year's best-case ending with a Lombardi Trophy, the Bears' best-case seems to be winning 10 or 11 games, making the playoffs and then bowing out in a conference headlined by the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints

It's not pointless to be in that spot. You might have fond memories of a certain moment or a certain player or a certain game. If you're reading this and also support Everton in the Premier League, you know how it feels. 

But if the goal is to win a Super Bowl, it's hard to see that happening with the present or future Chicago Bears

Unless Trubisky can do it. 

This means Trubisky, in his fourth year in the league, finally realizes the potential the Bears believed so strongly he had back in 2017. The kind of potential that led Ryan Pace to trade up one spot because he just had to have Mitch Trubisky, and couldn't settle for anyone else. 

The Bears have to hope that potential still exists somewhere in Trubisky. Maybe some new voices - like quarterbacks coach John DiFilippo and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor - can coax it out of him. Maybe Matt Nagy can still scheme it into showing up on Sundays. Maybe the mere presence of a true threat to his job in Nick Foles will be all it takes. 

The Bears, of course, cannot expect Trubisky to realize that potential. That's why you trade for Foles, who came to Chicago already trusted by Nagy, DiFilippo and Lazor - all three of whom coached him in the past. It's why I believe, strongly, Foles winds up as the Bears' Week 1 starter. 

But that's not the best-case outcome of the Bears' quarterback competition. 

Foles won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles and was the MVP of a game that looked more like a Big 12 shootout than a showcase of the NFL's best two teams. I know arguing Foles can't win a Super Bowl in Chicago seems foolish because he won it a few years ago. 

But Foles has never started more than 11 games in a season. He's started 13 over the last four years. 

While Foles can hit a hot streak, for the most part, he's fine. Whenever I get asked how I think Foles will be, I usually just shrug my shoulders and say that word: "Fine." Fine does not win a Super Bowl. Fine, coupled with a stacked defense, should be enough to get the Bears into the playoffs in 2020. 

But that's about it. 

And that's why you should hope Trubisky is not only the Bears' Week 1 starter, but their Week 5, Week 10, Week 13, Week 17 starter. If he is, it's probably because Trubisky is playing better than above average, and hasn't given coaches any reason to pull the Foles ripcord. 

That means playing at a level worthy of a contract extension after the 2020 season. Sure, that'd set Foles up as an expensive backup, but that's probably the best role for him anyway. Whatever financial headaches Foles' restructured ontract might cause would be easily mitigated by a dose of Good Mitch. 

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Are the chances high that Trubisky can do this? No. "Low" is even an overstatement. 

But the odds aren't zero.

Again, I still believe Foles will be the Bears' Week 1 starter. But Foles only gets the Bears so far. Almost certainly not out of The Middle. 

Trubisky can. And until, unequivocally, he proves he cannot, the Bears' best hope for 2020 and beyond resides in him. 

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Only Mitch Trubisky, not Nick Foles, can save Bears from bleak, mediocre future originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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