Does shortened exhibition season slant the field on Bears QB competition?
Multiple sources are reporting the plan on the table for the coming NFL exhibition season is for teams to report to training camps on July 28, play exhibitions -- one at home and one on the road -- the weekends of August 20-24 and August 27-31 and for the regular season to begin on Thursday, September 10 with Houston visiting Kansas City and a full slate of games to follow that weekend.
In essence this would eliminate what have traditionally been the first and fourth exhibition games.
Normally this news would be cause for celebration, two less games featuring mainly players who will never play on Sunday and that most season ticket holders are required to pay for, but will it create a greater disadvantage for some teams than others?
I am not suggesting it's a bad idea or that the league should hold off a year before implementing the change as it's long overdue. It is being done now to try and protect the players, coaches and staffs as best as possible, and that is clearly a good thing.
But with all 32 teams having already lost their workout programs, OTAs and minicamps, teams with new coaches and quarterbacks it seems will miss these games much more this year than others.
The Chicago Bears are one team that could be hampered more than most.
Ironically, a year ago head coach Matt Nagy would have said good riddance as he refused to play most of his starters including Mitch Trubisky in exhibition games his first two seasons in Chicago, but just a few weeks back he confirmed a change of heart.
"That's one of the things that I look back at from last year that I'm not happy about that I made a decision to do in the preseason," Nagy said.
"No. 1, I think it's good for them to have it, but No. 2, it sets the mentality. So that's not going to happen this year."
Now that he needs the games, he can't have half of them, and Nagy's already said his and Ryan Pace's promised open competitions at every position including the battle for the starting quarterback job between Trubisky and Nick Foles can't really begin until training camp and the exhibitions.
"Yeah, there's no competition going on right now over Zoom ...," Nagy said. "But when we do get out on the field, that's where we are going to have to be really good as coaches in making sure that we provide the best way possible to make it as fair as possible to where we can evaluate, and they can go out and get the exact same reps in the exact same environment so that we can hopefully make a decision off that."
Nagy explained the exact same reps includes each QB getting the same number of reps running the same plays, with both the first and second string, in practice and in games.
There is also the issue of the offensive coaching staff being almost completely revamped. Bill Lazor, John DiFilippo, Juan Castillo and Clancy Barone haven't even met most of their players yet.
As Trubisky has already pointed out, he may have a leg up because he's been running Nagy's offense the last two seasons with his teammates while Foles won't even meet them until the first day of camp.
Pace has been looking forward to the competition in this camp.
"We want what's best for the Chicago Bears; it's as simple as that, and that really applies to any position on our team," he said. "For this situation, let's let these guys battle it out, let the process naturally happen and over time that decision will be made."
Now the most critical time has been cut in half.
No one knows which quarterback will eventually seize and own the job.
But as far as whom the opening day starter will be, it's felt all along like Trubisky had a leg up because of the organization's commitment to him and his familiarity with his teammates.
If it truly is an open competition, with just half the games to evaluate, it sure seems like it's now Trubisky's job to lose.
• Twitter: @Hub_Arkush