For Bears quarterback Nick Foles, names are new, but playbook is like an old friend

Nick Foles is still learning names.

That's what an offseason without access to the team facility will do for a player in a new city. It's especially true for a new quarterback hoping to compete for a starting job.

The 31-year-old Foles spent his offseason at home in California and has been to Chicago only "a few times." The coronavirus pandemic has made 2020 a wacky year. For someone who went from backup to Super Bowl MVP in a matter of weeks, Foles knows a thing or two about wacky.

"This is going on year nine (for me), it's been a crazy career and it keeps getting crazier," Foles said.

Foles has never started more than 11 games in a regular season. But he carried his weight and more in the Super Bowl run with Philadelphia in 2017. It earned him a hefty payday with Jacksonville last year, before a broken clavicle turned 2019 into yet another crazy year for him.

Now, he's - at long last - in Halas Hall for training camp, familiarizing himself with faces, and coach Matt Nagy's playbook. The playbook is one area where he won't have too much catching up to do.

After the one-year detour in Jacksonville, a return to an offense Foles has thrived in is serving him well.

"The beautiful thing is there's a lot of similarities in the offense from my Philly offense," Foles said. "So I feel right back at home, whether it's the run game, the pass game, there are similarities. It's been a year since I was in that offense, but it's nice to have that verbiage and have that feel and understand why we're doing it."

The familiarity is what led the Bears to trade for Foles on March 31, in exchange for a compensatory fourth-round draft pick. The coaching tree and offensive similarities between Philadelphia, Kansas City and Chicago are well documented.

Foles played under Nagy in 2012 in Philadelphia and 2016 in Kansas City. He played under new Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in 2013 in Philadelphia, and he played under Bears quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo in 2017 in Philadelphia and last year in Jacksonville.

"It's fun to have that database of information, of knowing those guys and being in game situations with them," Foles said. "It helps, too, to build up speed. They've seen me in games. They know what I'm like in games."

Nagy said last week that Foles might be at a disadvantage compared to incumbent starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky, if only because this offseason has been so weird. OTAs are typically when a new quarterback would build familiarity with his receivers.

Foles did not have that luxury.

"He understands that," Nagy said. "And for both of them ... 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."

"I'm not worried about: Am I at a disadvantage or am I this," Foles said. "I don't really care."

In a Zoom interview Foles sounded right at home in the Bears quarterback room. With the playbook itself is almost like diving back into a familiar book or movie. He said he keeps remembering situations he was in with the Eagles, and how they handled this or that read. Even with the competition for the starting job, there are "no secrets" in the Bears QB room.

Foles has spent enough time as a backup and been through enough quarterback battles to know how to handle it.

He said the hardest thing is not being swayed when the QB he's competing with completes a big throw in practice. That would make any quarterback feel as if he needs to make a big throw to match it. Sometimes, checking down to the running back is the right move.

"When (Trubisky) makes a great throw, I'm going to be right there to slap him five and then we'll probably have to sanitize our hands, but I'm going to do it," Foles said. "That's part of this thing. It is a competition, but we're all on the same team, so we're going to push each other every day."

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