Bears Confident In Structure Of QB Competition

With no preseason games, Matt Nagy and the Bears must be creative.

Chris Emma
July 29, 2020 - 4:17 pm
Categories: 

(670 The Score) In simpler times, the Bears would be taking the field for their first practice of training camp this week and all eyes would be on the quarterback competition between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles.

But these aren't simple times. As the NFL moves forward with its season amid a pandemic, the first week of camp is focused on safety protocols and coronavirus testing -- Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and so on from there -- while full-contact practices are put on hold until Aug. 17. 

Listen Live Now on 670 The Score

That will mark the Bears' first full team work on the field this calendar year after the offseason program was conducted virtually. It also means the Trubisky-Foles competition will play out in less than a month on the field. 

Complicating matters is that all joint practices and preseason games were canceled. Countless game snaps were lost for Trubisky, Foles and the Bears.

With only those few weeks of work, it calls into question the integrity of the quarterback competition in the minds of some -- but not in the view of Bears coach Matt Nagy, who still believes in the process.

"It will all in the end show up and show what it’s supposed to be," Nagy said Wednesday. "So, we feel very confident about that."

Related: Hot seat? Ryan Pace feels 'full support' from Bears bosses

In early 2020, the Bears began formulating their plan to create competition for the 25-year-old Trubisky, who's entering the final year of his rookie contract after three inconsistent seasons as the team's starter. By the NFL Combine in late February, it was only a matter of who the veteran competitor would be.

The Bears traded for the 31-year-old Foles in a deal with the Jaguars in March, sending a fourth-round pick back to Jacksonville. From the onset of Foles' arrival to the Bears, Nagy vowed an "open competition" would be conducted with no biases.

The Bears' initial plans changed during the drastically altered offseason program, as practices in OTAs and minicamps were canceled. That delayed the start of the Bears' quarterback competition in earnest. So now, Nagy is tasked with creating a fair quarterback competition to be conducted in as thorough of a manner as the Bears can in a short period of time.

That challenge begins with getting Foles acclimated with his new team and in a position where he can truly compete against Trubisky.

"For sure it’s more of a disadvantage not having what he could have had just building the relationship," Nagy said of Foles. "Probably, more specifically is the timing with the wide receivers that you get in the OTAs, where you can run route after route after route. You get to see and feel how guys time up their motions. 

"That will be a disadvantage. It’s something that he could have had that he doesn’t have. But those guys know that. He understands that.

"He’ll be hungry to get back out there and just prove it on the field."

The Bears chose Foles over the likes of veteran quarterbacks Cam Newton and Andy Dalton because of his familiarity with their structure and system. Foles played under Nagy in Kansas City, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in Philadelphia and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo in both Philadelphia and Jacksonville. He has played in variations of Nagy's offense in both Kansas City and Philadelphia.

The Bears believe Foles' firm foundation in the system will allow him to compete against Trubisky even in a truncated preseason.

Once the Bears are allowed to begin full-contact practices, the clock will truly begin ticking on the competition. As Nagy focuses on his team as a whole, he will lean on Lazor and DeFilippo to oversee the quarterbacks' work. In the meantime, those two new hires are making plans for the structure of the competition.

Nagy remains confident the Bears' quarterback battle will produce a clear winner, even in these abnormal circumstances.

"When we get a chance to go out there, we’re evaluating those quarterbacks with every single play," Nagy said. "Not just (every) throw but every single check that they make at the line of scrimmage, every bit of leadership that they show in and out of the huddle, we’re there watching how they react to a specific play in practice. That got squeezed down a little bit. 

"Neither one of them should go out there and try to do too much. They just need to be themselves when they’re out there, play football and let the results take care of themselves."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.